The euphoria fans felt on Saturday now needs to be a catalyst for more victories on the field and in the recruiting wars.
Syracuse pulled one recruiting coup back in April, when they received a verbal commit from rapidly rising class of 2017 quarterback Tommy DeVito. A senior at perennial powerhouse Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ), DeVito gained national recognition this summer with stellar play at various camps and QB showcases, earning 4-star status from 247sports.com and ESPN.com.
DeVito and his Ironmen teammates got off to a terrible 0-3 start, before turning things around to win their next three. DeVito then used his team’s bye week to check out his first Dome game on Saturday. He had pretty good timing, to say the least. We caught up with DeVito, who gave us some insight into his past, present, and future on the gridiron.
“Be ready to win some football games. They better pack the Dome.”
OG: What were your impressions of the huge SU win and the Carrier Dome on game day?
OG: There was a big group of commits and recruits at the game. Were you doing any recruiting yourself and what kind of feedback did you get from those guys who were there?
TD: From the 2017 class, everyone there was committed already. We were really just getting to know each other, just hanging out some more and enjoying our time there. There were a few 2018 guys, including two from my school – (safety) Kevin Brennan and (offensive guard/tackle) Tyler Williams. They were trying to find out why I picked Syracuse. There are always questions as to why I picked Syracuse and you never really know until you experience something like that.
OG: What do you think that kind of signature win will do for Syracuse in year one of a program rebuild under Coach Babers?
TD: It’s amazing. Their offense really did an outstanding job. To put up the points that they did against that defense, that’s going to open up a lot of eyes. When they bring in even better athletes to be a part of that system and play against those caliber of teams, it’s really going to be something special.
OG: What was it like watching Eric Dungey run that hurry-up, spread offense in person that you’re going to be running down the road?
TD: It was good. To watch someone someone else do it, actually play in it, it makes you think what you can do as well.
OG: How do you envision yourself within the Orange offense and do you see yourself running it differently when you eventually take over the reins?
TD: Yes, I think I’d come at it a little differently as far as passing the ball, just staying in the pocket a little bit longer, extending the plays a little bit longer with my legs and being a guy they need to lead the offense.
OG: Your high school, Don Bosco Prep, has a reputation for being more of a run-first offense, although you do have a spread attack. How has that system prepared you for what you will play in at Syracuse?
TD: We are known for running the football, but this year we’ve really been pass-heavy because we have a young offensive line that is getting better every game. So we’ve been passing the ball a lot and that will help me at the next level at Syracuse.
OG: Bosco is used to winning but you started out 0-3 against very top competition. What did you do from a leadership role at that point to help the team rattle off three wins in a row?
TD: I just decided to play our football game, really just to lead the offense at my tempo and control it as much as I could. If something’s not right, I’m going to make sure it’s fixed for the next game because from those first three games, there was a really big learning curve for our whole offense. Offensively, we’ve picked up our game a lot from those early losses.
OG: Do you consider yourself a vocal leader or do you just let your coach be that vocal guy when your team is struggling?
TD: I definitely like to be a vocal leader but to the extent where [my teammates] won’t think that you’re above them. Some kids will try to be like a coach. And some other kids don’t like that and it goes in one ear and out the other. But even if they’re your best friend, you’ve got to get on them. You get on them to the extent that you know they’re going to learn from it and not just be like, ‘this guy’s on me’ or whatever.
OG: The Coach Babers post game video has gone viral. It was quite a passionate address to the team. What’s your reaction seeing that?
TD: I was actually in the locker room for that with the other commits. It was awesome. I was ready to go. I’ve never seen a post game speech like that before. Usually it’s just like, ‘Oh, everyone did great,’ but he really talked to them through the good and the bad and he really made the point that really [Virginia Tech] were not much better. It was really fun to be in that environment after they came off that huge win. It really was something special.
OG: You’ve received a lot of national attention this spring and summer with a tremendous showing at Elite 11 and the other camps and showcases. You really skyrocketed up the national recruiting rankings. Did that impact you at all, and how do you stay grounded when all of a sudden you’re seeing yourself on ESPN?
TD: From the beginning, before all of that started happening, I never really paid attention to it, as far as the rankings and stars and this offer and that offer. Like my trainer, Leon Clarke, always told to me, ‘just stay the process and let God take its course.’ And really all those things were just add-ons. It was just having fun with the game, because at the end of the day, you play football because you love it and to play football with your brothers who are next to you.
TD: He’s been my quarterback coach since I was six years old and I’ve been with him ever since. I was going to a place called Sports University, which is like a speed and agility place, because I was not that fast, running around the bases, playing baseball. My dad was trying to get my speed up for that. There was a drill where we had to throw a tennis ball or something and [Clarke] happened to see it because he was working there. That connection was made and when football time came around, he trained me and it’s been there ever since.
(Clarke currently runs Clarke Sports, a NJ-based quarterback development and scouting service.)
OG: What developmental goals are you targeting for yourself, as you’re working with Leon and your high school coaches to get you ready to play at the next level at Syracuse?
TD: Definitely physicality, just seeing the size of some of those guys. I’d like to add on some more weight just to protect myself (DeVito is listed at 6-foot-2, 195). A little bit of speed and agility, making sure I’m good with that zone read that they run there. They run some of that read option, making sure I’m acclimated to all that, so I’m confident going into there.
OG: Tommy, where do you see yourself in five years?
TD: In the NFL.
OG: You’re a Jersey guy, so is your team the Jets, the Giants or someone else?
TD: My favorite team is the Steelers but at that point, I would not have any problem being on any team (laughs).
OG: And after the NFL? Let’s say you have a great career. Where do you see yourself after the NFL, when you finally hang up your cleats?
TD: Probably get into something with coaching or just training other kids, like what Leon did for me. Just to build someone up from scratch, putting your all into someone and a whole bunch of people, sharing my experience and what I’ve learned throughout the years with them.
OG: Syracuse fans are really looking forward to you wearing Orange next year, do you have a message for them?
TD: Just be ready to win some football games. They better pack the Dome.
Follow Vince on Twitter @IommiCuseFan