Verbal commits, prospective recruits take in atmosphere at MetLife Stadium

first_img Published on September 30, 2014 at 12:05 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Colin Byrne sat in the MetLife Stadium seats, watched his future position coach Joe Adam direct warm-ups with the offensive linemen and imagined himself as one of the players on the field.Byrne, a Class of 2015 offensive line verbal commit for Syracuse, traveled up from Florida to be one of a handful of potential recruits and verbal pledges in attendance on Saturday for the Orange’s matchup with then-No. 8 Notre Dame in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Financial implications aside, playing a nationally prominent opponent in an NFL stadium provides a recruiting tool for SU. To high school players, it shows that the Orange can play for crowds of 76,802, schedule games with Top-10 teams and garner attention on a national network.For some, it reinforces their decision of choosing SU. For others, it moves the Orange higher up the list. Either way, the recruiting dividends that stem from playing at MetLife against a team like the Fighting Irish raise Syracuse’s profile.“I was just thinking about me, in my high school stadium, doing the same thing on Friday nights,” Byrne said, “and what the transition is going to be.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn total, 13 prospects were in attendance to watch the game, according to Eight were members of the Class of 2015, including two — three-star running back Dontae Strickland and the three-star Byrne — who have already verbally committed to the Orange.But five members of this year’s class who were in the stands have yet to make a decision, and some, like Class of 2015 offensive lineman Jared Southers, used the experience to narrow down a list that includes up to a dozen schools.“It definitely moved Syracuse up, definitely made me want to check it out a little bit more, learn more about it,” Southers said. “Before the game I’d say it was out of my top six, but now it’s definitely in it.”As high schoolers, they were in awe of the atmosphere. Byrne, who plays for nationally renowned St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida) High School, said he gets anywhere from three to four thousand people at a typical game on a Friday night in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and playing in front of Atlantic Coast Conference crowds seems surreal to him.Although the Carrier Dome holds a maximum of almost 50,000 people, watching Syracuse play in front of the largest college football crowd ever at MetLife was an enticing sample size for recruits.“The atmosphere was just crazy. Seventy-six thousand fans were there. That was just, like, awesome,” said Qaadir Sheppard, an uncommitted Class of 2015 three-star defensive end, who added that SU has been in his top three.Being able to schedule teams like Notre Dame or Louisiana State, which will travel up to the Carrier Dome in 2015, doesn’t just attract recruits for the prospect of huge crowds.Even though the Orange is 0-3 in games played at MetLife — losing to Southern California in 2012, Penn State in 2013 and most recently Notre Dame — it shows recruits that head coach Scott Shafer has the program heading in the right direction.“They’re so close to making their statement,” Byrne said. “It’s not even that they can’t compete with these teams because they can. That’s what I look forward to the most is building this team up to a chance of beating a high-ranked team.”And for 17- and 18-year-old kids, the possibility of materializing the aura into a reality is even more enticing.Said Sheppard: “This could really happen. That could be me out there.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img