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Recruiting season is winding down but in reality, things are just starting to amp up as we head toward the home stretch on the way to National Signing Day on February 4. Two of Syracuse’s top priorities are on big visits this weekend, with defensive end Jake Pickard in Ann Arbor to check out the Wolverines, while defensive tackle Steven Clark decided on a last minute trip to check out Gainesville and the Florida Gators.

Pickard is, of course, a player that Syracuse would love to bring in but has a much taller hill to climb in order to snare his services. As we’ve talked about before, the 6-foot-6 native of New Jersey has committed to Wisconsin but has reopened his recruitment a bit in the wake of the coaching changes for the Badgers. Pickard hadn’t been particularly high on Michigan’s radar until recently, when Jim Harbaugh took the reins of the maize and blue.

One of the keys to remember here is that while Michigan suddenly seems to be the favorite to land Pickard, the word on the street is that they want him as a tight end, while his preference is to play defense. Often during these key visiting weekends, fans will now try to get a sense of how things are going based on the recruit’s Twitter page, but Pickard is making sure things are staying pretty vague. He’s been retweeting and favoriting tweets from fans of the Orange, the Badgers, and the Wolverines.

One thing is for sure, though – if the Wolverines want to secure Pickard’s services, they’re going to have to step up their game on supplying him with the chapstick he so richly deserves:

There’s little doubt that, if he were to select Syracuse, he’d have all the chapstick he could ever hope for.

Moving on to Steven Clark, who unlike Pickard is a Syracuse commit, the defensive tackle seemed set to stick with the Orange (and still very well could) when he initially turned down the chance to visit the Gators. However, on Friday morning it was learned that Clark would indeed take the trip to Florida in order to confirm for himself that Syracuse was where he wants to spend the next four to five years of his life. There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing your due diligence, and while he’s been retweeting and favoriting more Syracuse fans than Gator fans, obviously the lure of playing for Florida, in the SEC, is hard for a lot of people to turn down.

Yes, Steven, Florida is treating you nice, but just remember: the Gators want you to play either guard or center on their offensive line. At least, that’s the word coming out of UF, and by all accounts Clark, like Pickard, prefers to play on the defensive side of the ball. Syracuse is recruiting Clark as a defensive tackle all the way, so that could play a key role in keeping Clark firm to the Orange.

This is a big weekend on the Syracuse campus for official visits as well, though all of the recruits on campus have already committed to the Orange so the big focus is to keep them happy with their selection. Among those on campus are linebackers Shy Cullen and Troy Henderson, offensive linemen Cody Conway, Andrejas Duerig, and Colin Byrne, defensive tackles Ty Cross and Anthony Giudice, safety Christopher Fredrick, and kicker/punter Sterling Hofrichter, who looks like someone’s 13 year old brother who tagged along for the ride:

I kid, I kid. He looks at least 14. But honestly, I won’t lie – Hofrichter has been one of the recruits I’ve been the most excited about, because special teams have been pretty shaky over the last several years (outside of Heisman hopeful Riley Dixon and soon-to-be Heisman runner-up Cole Murphy, that is), so luring a highly touted kicker to come boom field goals in the Carrier Dome is just fine with me.

Oh, and also? Yes, Andrejas, this was indeed a very good sign that you made the absolute right choice:

Now let’s spread that message on to Pickard and Clark, and hope that when signing day comes around, they’ll be joining you on the Hill.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including Cracked.com, Spike.com, TheSportster.com, Gunaxin.com, and TopTenz.net, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish