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Awkward and Unusual Recruiting Essay

Delone Carter: Mr. Syracuse 2006?

Recruiting news and this notebook usually fail to mix. However, given the fact that Syracuse has actually received some good news in the "Future Orange" Department, some light notes are in order.

Delone Carter = Football Jesus?
This past weekend, the Big 33 Football Classic was held at Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The annual game pitting the finest 33 recruits from Ohio and Pennsylvania saw Copley High School superstar and incoming Syracuse freshman Delone Carter eat up his Keystone State competition. Even though Ohio lost the game 61-42, Carter put on quite the show.

As Donnie Webb reports in his blog, Carter set the tone early and ran like a banshee the rest of the way:

Big 33 update

Syracuse University freshman tailback Delone Carter of Copley High School rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns for Ohio in its 61-42 loss to Pennsylvania in the 49th Big 33 Football Classic Saturday night in Hershey, Pa.

A couple of newspapers - The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Cleveland Plain-Dealer - have Carter rushing for 115 years. The Harrisburg Patriot-News had him rushing for 194 yards. I called the Big 33 Office Monday to check and was told they had did not have the statistics broken down and wouldn't for another week.

A chocolate hangover, perhaps?

"Carter is stocky, strong, patient and fast enough to get by the secondary. Through three and a half quarters, he only had nine carries for 72 yards. He then ripped off a couple of long runs, including a 78 yard touchdown run that saw him stave off six tacklers throughout the entirety of his run. Syracuse got themselves a good one in Carter."
If Carter has half the talent he displayed in Saturday's high school showcase, there is no question that he will be given the opportunity to press both Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley and Paul Chiara for carries this season. The question is, therefore, how head coach Greg Robinson will deal with this development.

Ideally, providing Carter with a redshirt season will undoubtedly provide Syracuse will the opportunity to allow Carter to develop and learn behind two generally functional tailbacks. With an extra year of seasoning, Carter could mitigate many of the growing pains endured by true freshman and truly have the opportunity to flash his talents as the Orange's featured back.

However, the situation that I feared/anticipated appears to be playing out:

Should Carter show flashes of prodigal talent during the summer, there is going to be a lot of pressure on head coach Greg Robinson to throw Carter into the mix, especially if neither Brinkley nor Chiara secures the starting position without question. Ideally, either Chiara or Brinkley will establish themselves as viable first and second options, thus allowing Carter to redshirt this season and apply some weight and resilience to his frame. If Carter truly is the kind of game changing back that those in the business believe he can become, there is no reason to force him onto the field before he is ready.

This is not to say that Carter should not see playing time if he is truly the strongest rusher on the depth chart. Freshman running backs in recent history have had success on the gridiron. However, the Orange program made the mistake of playing a highly rated recruit in Johnnie Morant early in his career when he was not ready to step onto the field. He lost a year of eligibility and only late in his career began achieving his potential. Hopefully, Greg Robinson will not make the same mistake with Carter this year.
As a consequence, it appears as if Carter is going to have every opportunity to step onto the field September 2nd against Wake Forest not only as an interesting option for the Orange rushing attack, but maybe even its primary option.

And that, I think, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Syracuse Signs Another Pennsylvania Quarterback, World Spins on Axis
The headline may be a tad overblown, but given Syracuse's recent success with Pennsylvania-bred quarterbacks, some mild discomfort is certainly in order.

Skeptical? Maybe these names will assist with your general pessimism:
  • Cecil "The Diesel" Howard
  • Troy Nunes
  • Perry Patterson

Anyway, Syracuse received a commitment from Greensburg, Pennsylvania quarterback Cody Catalina yesterday morning. Catalina, the fifth member of Syracuse's Class of 2007, is a 6' 4", 195-pound gunslinger that covers the 40-yard dash in around 4.7 seconds. As Donnie Webb notes in today's edition of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Catalina's decision to attend Syracuse its quite an interesting tale:

Greensburg (Pa.) Central Catholic High School football coach Muzzy Colosimo peppered quarterback Cody Catalina with questions about Syracuse and Vanderbilt.

Finally, Colosimo asked one more zinger: What's your problem?

There was none, which is why Catalina picked up the telephone Monday morning and called Syracuse University head football coach Greg Robinson with his oral commitment to sign with the Orange in 2007.

Catalina is the believed to be the only quarterback Syracuse pursued after Christian Brothers Academy quarterback Mike Paulus announced his decision several weeks ago to sign with North Carolina.

Catalina got an offer from Syracuse one day after Paulus picked the Tar Heels. He chose the Orange over Vanderbilt. He also had offers from Rutgers, Akron, New Hampshire, Buffalo, Toledo, Tulane, Temple and Delaware.

Catalina is the second player from Greensburg to make an oral commitment to Syracuse. Teammate and best friend Max Suter, a running back/defensive back, announced his commitment to Robinson a few weeks ago.

The Orange continues to chase Greensburg receiver Nick Sukay, who recently announced that

Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Penn State were his finalists. Catalina said he doubts he can sway Sukay, though Colosimo said the Orange remains "pretty persistent."
What may be more interesting than the fact that Catalina is going to try and accomplish the impossible in bringing Nick Sukay to the Salt City is the fact that he is undettered by the Orange potentially recruiting another quarterback in this recruitment cycle:

That feistiness is why Catalina looks forward to competing with Syracuse freshman quarterback Andrew Robinson, whom he met on campus in May. Catalina said "it wouldn't surprise me" if the Orange doesn't add another quarterback to the recruiting class of 2007. With Perry Patterson and Matt Hale graduating after this season and Joe Fields moving to defense, the Orange will have just two quarterbacks on scholarship going into the 2007 season, which is why Catalina thinks Syracuse will sign another quarterback next February.

The more competition, Catalina said, the better.

"I'll compete with anybody, whether they've been here one year or two years," Catalina said. "Once I step on the field, it's a battle. You've got to play every down. If something ticks me off that I feel strongly about, I won't hold anything back."
While it is difficult to assess where Catalina fits into Syracuse's plans for 2007 and forward, the safe money is on Catalina redshirting his freshman year and learning behind incoming freshman Andrew Robinson. Catalina has the tools to become a poor-man's Jay Cutler (which is ironic given the fact that Catalina spurred the Commodores to dress in orange), and to stunt his growth before he has a chance to blossom would be disheartening.

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