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College football: Shafer’s first recruiting class will be hard-working

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SYRACUSE — Syracuse University football coach Scott Shafer announced the 19 members his first recruiting class on Wednesday, and the group seems to be a reflection of the first-year Orange head coach — underrated with a chip on its shoulder.

Shafer’s inaugural class doesn’t contain a five- or four-star recruit and is ranked 74th and 72nd by scout.com and rivals.com, respectively.

“The greatest thing about the game we coach and play is you put the ball down and you play,” Shafer said. “And you take that five-star guy against a two-star guy, and let my guy just go after your guy with a chip on his shoulder and I’ll be excited to see where we turn out.”

Scout.com broke its rankings down by conference and had the Orange’s class listed as No. 13 out of 14 teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Next season will be Syracuse’s first in the ACC.

“Yeah, we may not be the fastest, we may not be the biggest, we may not be the strongest,” said Shafer, his tone becoming more aggressive with each word.

“But by God, we’re going to play our butts off here and I love these kids that we just signed. And more importantly, I like the (returning) kids that are working in the (Manley) Fieldhouse right now. And we’ll play in this conference with a chip on our shoulder. I can’t promise you anything more than that, but we’re going to play hard, we’re going to play with integrity and we’re going to play with respect for the game. That’s all I really care about at this point in time,” Shafer added.

Shafer said his first priority after replacing former coach Doug Marrone in early January, who left to coach the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, was to sign two quarterbacks.

The Orange lost a verbal commitment from three-star prospect Zach Allen soon after the coaching change, but Shafer retained the commitment of Austin Wilson from Pennsylvania, and added Mitch Kimble, a dual-threat quarterback from Illinois.

“That was one of our primary goals and I’m extremely excited about the two young men that we signed,” Shafer said.

Shafer added that both players are expected to compete with several returning players for the starting spot vacated by Ryan Nassib, who graduated with just about every single-season and career passing record in school history with the exception of touchdown tosses.

“You need to have competition with five (or) six guys at that position early on, in my opinion,” Shafer said.

“They’re all pretty competitive guys that want a shot.”

Shafer said that the next priority was adding a couple of offensive linemen. He added four — John Miller, a junior college transfer, and three true freshmen, Jon Burton, Kendall Moore and Alex Hayes.

Next on Shafer’s checklist was offensive playmakers. He signed three wide receivers, Brisly Estime, Corey Cooper and Corey Winfield, along with tight ends PJ Batten and Tyler Provo.

Provo is the younger brother of former Orange tight end Nick Provo, who is the career leader in receptions at his position.

Defensively, Shafer added three defensive linemen — Isaiah Johnson, Trevon Trejo, and Wayne Williams.

Shafer said that Trejo, listed at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, has a “Chandler Jones type of body,” before singling out Williams for his agility.

“He’s a big old dog we’ve been chasing around for a couple of years,” Shafer said of Williams.

“He’ll do a back flip then turn around and ask if you want him to do it again,” he added. “I say ‘No, that’s fine. We don’t want you to get hurt, let’s get you on campus first.’”

The Orange’s class also includes three linebackers — true freshman Marqez Hodge and junior college transfers Josh Kirkland and Luke Arciniega.

The class was rounded out by two defensive backs in Darius Kelly and Chauncey Scissum, out of West Henrietta (near Rochester). Scissum is a former high school teammate of current Orange running back Ashton Broyld.

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