A Peek Behind the Curtain - Pt. 2

Mitch Kimble

Syracuse's new coaching staff closed out its 2013 cycle with several prospects that weren't previously high on the priority list when Doug Marrone was at the helm. It wasn't able to do so without some drama in between offering and signing four prospects, so we take you behind the curtain to tell the real tale of their recruitment inside.

Syracuse did not yield a top 50 class in the 2013 recruiting cycle, but its new staff under Coach Scott Shafer should still be commended for the effort it put out not only securing many signatures from verbal commits under Doug Marrone, but going out and snagging a handful of late players that were previously committed to other schools.

CuseNation.com provides a true insiders look to the paths of four that may prove big for 'Cuse football in due time.

*Mitch Kimble

-By John Garcia Jr.

As the above picture of the mid-west quarterback suggests, Kimble is known as a cool customer with the ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs. Many compare him to former Syracuse commit Zach Allen, who has since enrolled at TCU, and the staff was in-fact looking to secure a quarterback similar to Allen in that spread offensive packages would not be foreign upon seeing variations of them at the next level.

But the road to landing Kimble wasn't so easy. When Syracue offered him a scholarship, he was a commitment to Northern Illinois. While the Huskies are usually a program SU can beat in recruiting, the real hurdle was North Carolina State. The NIU staff, after an Orange Bowl appearance, took over in Raleigh and brought over many of their old commitments with them. Once Kimble told me Syracuse was a leader for him, the next sentence was...

"But I'm taking an official visit to N.C. State before my decision."

Typically, as recruiting reporters and analysts, reading between the lines there suggests that he's going to go with familiarity and pledge to the school he last trips to.

Wrong.

Kimble did like what he saw in Raleigh, especially with the coaching staff and the ACC, but Syracuse prevailed because of its late effort and pitch to Kimble. Scott Shafer and Tim Lester paid him an in-home visit on January 22 that all but sealed the deal.

"They basically told me I'm the QB that they want and they would love to coach me," said Kimble after that visit. "They also said I could step in as a true freshman and compete for the starting job."

Though that official to N.C. State seemed deadly to the Orange, the fact that he has the chance to play right away at another SEC school that put on a full court press was a bit too much to pass up despite his familiarity with the Pack's staff.

After Kimble committed to Syracuse, it was clear that Syracuse snagged the lead with the official visit to Central New York, followed by the in-home pitch from the two coaches. So going into his official in Raleigh, Kimble ended up doing so to make sure SU was the school for him, instead of the conception of the other way around.

State visited him before the official visit, and used him on campus as the final pitch. The problem with that was that they had a huge visit weekend there, and it didn't feel as personal to Kimble. Syracuse did it the other way, and it proved to be the biggest deciding factor for him.


Estime was turned down by several programs before SU.

*Brisly Estime

-By John Garcia Jr.

The conundrum that was Mr. Estime was one of the all-timer's in my pair of recruiting cycles in this business.

Most know about his commitments to Purdue, Iowa State and others, but the offers always seemed to get pulled until he verballed to Syracuse while visiting on the final weekend of the 2013 cycle.

Why did we hold the phone on reporting it ourselves and updating the commitment list? Because this was Estime we were talking about. He often would give us information one word at a time, and never wanted to give us a full interview. Couple that with a new coaching staff and no go-to person to try to figure out if the offer is legit or not...and we were in a pickle.

So we talked to the other recruits in town over the weekend to try our best to find out more.

Did you see him commit?

Were the coaches there?

What did they say?

Perhaps it was luck, but by Monday morning (Feb. 4), we finally had enough to update him on the list. Every recruit said the same thing in that the coaches were very excited after he provided his verbal pledge to the Orange. Estime confirmed with us many hours before,but we remained skeptical considering it was his fourth pledge to a school in a short time.

The last he was committed, to Iowa State, was voided when he took an official visit to Western Michigan in early January. Then, Arkansas seemed like a big-time offer he was on the verge of.

The key there, especially for Syracuse, was George McDonald. The new offensive coordinator was familiar with him from his days at Miami and then in Fayetteville. While an offer never materialized, McDonald kept in contact while at SU.

Then there was Malik Brown, the fellow Palm Beach County (Fla.) prospect that was committed to SU at the time. Brown stressed to the staff that Estime was the player that single-handedly defeated the powerhouse that Brown played for in Dwyer High.

Estime, who's speed and moves in the open field are top-notch despite his question-marks, was electric in that game and many others in 2012. It was enough for McDonald and SU to see, and Estime told us he was committed to Syracuse as a slot wide receiver.

Once he signed, there was a major sigh of relief from all around the CuseNation.com headquarters on the industry's busiest day.

Since then, after some digging, there has been chatter to us by multiple sources that qualifying will be an issue for Estime. He won't comment on the matter, and there's similar for Corey Cooper as well - another wide receiver. This can perhaps explain why a trio was brought in instead of the one that the Marrone regime envisioned while they were on the hill.

So, of course, the Brisly saga continues as we get closer and closer to the high school graduation season. Will he make it? What about Cooper?

The last thing Syracuse fans, or even us for that matter, want to see is Mr. Estime have to take another year off before enrolling at Syracuse. Will it be Milford? Hargrave? Fork Union Academy?

Those questions may be just as hard to answer as tracking his commitments was.

Good luck Brisly.


Winfield was taken back by late offer.

*Corey Winfield

-By Mike McAllister

In July of 2012, 3-star wide receiver Corey Winfieldcommitted to Northern Illinois. He loved the Huskies' program and was done with his recruitment. Things were quiet with the St. Louis (MO) product for several months. Then the new Syracuse staff took over, and we received a tip on Winfield.

We were informed a few days before his January 18th official visit to Syracuse that he would be visiting and committing to the Orange soon. Immediately, we went to work. We contacted him to find out where Syracuse fit into his plans. While the commitment was not quite as imminent as we originally thought, the interest was real and visit coming soon.

Winfield visited on January 18th, and loved everything he saw. Syracuse seemed to be the favorite, but Northern Illinois was still in the mix.

A few days later, we received information that Shafer was visiting Winfield for an in-home visit on January 22nd. We spoke to Winfield briefly about the visit, to which we were notified if his parents like Shafer Syracuse would be the choice.

We followed up as always, and Winfield texted, "Coach just left my house, and yes I committed to Syracuse!" The flip was complete. The talented wide receiver was extremely happy about playing in a major BCS conference, loved everything Syracuse had to offer, and couldn't wait for signing day.

Shafer had his first commitment as a head coach, and it was at a position of need. Things were relatively quiet on Winfield's front for the next couple of weeks. Then, on February 5th, the day before national signing day, a curveball was thrown. That curveball was in the form of in-state Missouri extending an offer Winfield's way.

Once we found that out, we called Winfield and texted his uncle. Winfield told us over the phone that it was very late, and he seemed rather unimpressed by the seemingly desperate move on the Tigers' part. Chances of a flip seemed remote. That feeling was further evidenced by Winfield's uncle texting us that it was very late in the process and he didn't think anything would come of it.

However, a little while later, a text from Winfield's uncle raised an eyebrow. He said that the Missouri offer has made Winfield take a step back, and he will consider it. Winfield was going to listen to what Missouri had to say and decide where to sign after that.

The next morning, texts and phone calls to Winfield and his uncle were not immediately returned. It raised questions as to what was going on. Fortunately for Syracuse fans, Winfield faxed in his letter of intent early in the morning. Once that word came out, we followed up with Winfield.

Missouri's last minute offer was one of desperation, and Winfield saw right through that. He indicated he did not feel wanted by the Tigers, and knew Syracuse was the spot for him.


Moore flipped to SU late in the game.

*Kendall Moore

-By Mike McAllister

A talented, versatile prospect, the recruitment of Chicago (IL) product Kendall Moore was not without its drama. During the late spring of 2012 through the summer, Moore's recruitment was full of offers and differing top threes. At no point, however, was Syracuse in the picture.

Fast forward to the new staff coming aboard, and an offer was extended. We were notified that Moore, and his teammate Reggie Spearman, were offered by Syracuse. It was unclear how interested he would be with such late interest. DeAndre Smith was the key here. The two had developed a relationship from Smith's time at New Mexico.

Once Smith joined Scott Shafer's staff, he offered Moore. Immediately, an official visit for February 1st was scheduled. However, Moore was committed to Western Michigan at the time. He really liked the Broncos and their program. Then there was in-state Illinois. Talk of a package deal with Spearman and Moore was developing. The only two spots for that to happen was Syracuse and Illinois.

After the visit, Moore seemed very high on the Orange.He said they were in his top two. A decision was to be announced on February 5th.

The day before his announcement, February 4th, we reached out to Moore to see where things stood. He indicated he had made a final decision, and Syracuse was the choice. However, he asked that his decision not be reported until after his decision was announced during Simeon High's announcement ceremony the following day. Respecting his wish to have his moment, we held on to the information.

During the next day, his brother tweeted out that he was proud of Moore's decision to attend Syracuse. While other outlets retweeted it out for all to see, we respected Moore's wishes. After a quick communication back and forth, Moore asked we still hold the interview we did with him and the news itself. Again, we respected his wishes.

Moore officially announced his commitment to Syracuse that evening, and we were ready with our in-depth interview conducted the night before.

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