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Welcome to our first installment of Football Friday, a brand new Otto’s Grove exclusive. Every Friday I’ll be posting five thoughts regarding recent news in the Syracuse football, college football, and professional football landscape. Please note the comments written in this article do not reflect the thoughts, views, or opinions of ottosgrove.com, but solely from the ingenious (Editor’s note: or insane?)  mind of football analyst, Justin Roe.

1. “Deflategate”

Let’s start our first topic with something every football fan in America seems to have an opinion on: #deflatedfootballgame.

As we all know by now the New England Patriots were found to be using flat balls during their playoff game last week against the Indianapolis Colts. I know I’m going to be in the minority here, but I really do think people are making too big of a deal as to how this affected the outcome of the game. It wasn’t Tom Brady throwing around a flat ball that lost the Colts that game, it was the Colts inability to block New England’s outstanding defensive line (which might I add includes Syracuse’s former defensive end Chandler Jones). There were no open holes for Colts running back Boom Herron, not much time for Andrew Luck to throw the ball, and the Colts wide receivers struggled to gain separation against New England’s stout secondary.

I’ve heard many people clamoring for the Patriots to be taken out of the Super Bowl, for them to lose multiple draft picks, and to face a multi-million dollar fine. While I think they deserve to be punished, I feel people are crucifying Tom Brady and Bill Belichick simply because they are part of the New England Patriots organization. I struggle to think that if the Colts had won that game and the same thing happened to them, the fans of the NFL would be in a similar uproar. And then a final thought, if the referees knew about this at halftime I can’t help but ask the question, why didn’t they put a stop to it? With multiple reports coming out that other teams alerted the Colts of this “flat ball trend” things just sound a little too fishy.

2. Jake Pickard Visits Michigan

Pay close attention to Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend. Syracuse football fans are on the edge of their seats as one of their biggest recruiting targets, defensive end Jake Pickard takes his official visits to the University of Michigan. Pickard, who is currently committed to the University of Wisconsin, had an exceptional visit to Syracuse last weekend, and many Orange fans were feeling great about a possible flip. When new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh reached out to Pickard and offered him a scholarship at the beginning of the week, ‘Cuse fans took the news like one would take a punch to the stomach. Pickard is on commitment watch when visiting the Wolverines this weekend. If he somehow leaves without committing, it would be nothing but great news for Syracuse.

3. #RESTORE44

Syracuse fans should get very used to seeing, saying, and typing the hashtag #Restore44. We’ve recently posted about stud running back, Robert Washington and his desire to wear 44. This can not be underestimated in Washington’s recruitment. Call me naive, but I think if Washington has the chance to wear this prestigious number, it would all but wrap up a commitment from the North Carolina running back. In recent interviews, Washington has spoken about the opportunity to wear a number that Hall of Fame running backs Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little made legendary during their time on the hill. If the athletic administration at Syracuse allows 44 to be un-retired, Robert Washington could be the biggest Syracuse commit since the late 1990s.

4. Flipping Recruits

Losing a defensive end commit to Oregon State was hard for Syracuse fans to read this week. While it’s never fun to see a prospect people are excited about flip, it’s part of the recruiting game. Instead of dwelling on the loss, let’s highlight a Syracuse commit who politely said, “No thank you” to a big name SEC school that came knocking earlier this week. Three star defensive tackle Steven Clark was offered a scholarship with the Florida Gators this week, but after consideration told the Gators he would rather spend the next four years playing at the Carrier Dome. Clark has the size, speed, strength, and violence to make an immediate impact on the Syracuse defensive line. Syracuse fans should be thankful that Steven considered Syracuse his dream school and Florida was recruiting him to play on their offensive line. I have not been shy about how much I love Steven’s potential. It’s about time other big name schools have started to take interest.

(Note: Steven has now confirmed he will be taking an official visit to Florida this weekend, by most accounts in order to confirm that Syracuse is the right choice – interesting to keep in mind, Florida is still recruiting him as an OG, and Steven wants to play DT at the next level)

5. The Domino Effect in Recruiting

Last, but certainly not least (yes, I’m teasing a future article here), don’t underestimate the influence a verbal commitment can have on other elite college football prospects. Prospects develop relationships at camps they attend all around the country. They talk about what schools they are considering and what coaches are telling them. It should be noted if Syracuse lands a big commitment for the 2016 class, it could very well cause a domino effect for other elite prospects to start considering the Orange. Take that information however you would like it, but I think Syracuse fans should be excited about wrapping up the 2015 class and what they have to look forward to with the 2016 recruiting cycle.

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Thank you for reading the first installment of Football Friday at ottosgrove.com. Be on the lookout next week for the second part of our National Signing Day feature, which breaks down the 2015 recruiting class and who could be last minute additions as we inch toward National Signing Day. We will also have our latest film analysis of our four star safety commit Marquise Blair.

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Justin is a 2011 graduate from SUNY Buffalo State. Since that time, he spent several years coaching high school football in North Carolina while also working at NC State, and has also served as a head and assistant tennis coach at the Division III and Division I levels. During this tenure coaching high school football, he sent players to continue their football career at Alabama, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, North Carolina State, East Carolina, and other Division II and III schools.