The Parent’s Guide to Football Recruiting

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The recruiting process is a long, arduous journey for prospects in all sports, at every level. Whether you’re a volleyball player at the Division III  level or an elite hoops prospect deciding between Duke, Kentucky, and Syracuse University, it’s the biggest decision you’ll ever make in your young life. When it comes to high level college football recruiting, young men are faced with the kinds of challenges, stress, and overwhelming pressure to commit from all sides that it can be difficult to handle. Fortunately for many of these kids, they’ve got strong parental figures in their lives to help alleviate some of the burden and guide them through the process.

Three of Syracuse’s newest faces were lucky enough to have exactly that. Shy Cullen, Steven Clark, and Trey Dunkelberger all came from wildly different points in their recruitment, and all are expected to contribute early now that they’ve become members of the Orange family.

For Shy, it was an early commitment to the Orange, and a strong sense of loyalty that kept him a bit under the radar despite being an athletic freak at the outside linebacker position.

Steven, on the other hand, saw his profile skyrocket, going from an early commitment to South Alabama, to switching his pledge to Syracuse, and then having several members of the SEC, the biggest, meanest conference on the block, come knocking at his door.

And then there’s Trey Dunkelberger, the pass catching tight end who found himself playing at a junior college in California, finally getting looks after promoting himself through social media. Last fall, Trey wasn’t on the Syracuse coaching staff’s radar. Just a few months later as spring ball opens, he’s running with the first team offense.

In all three cases, these young men had strong parental figures helping them navigate the choppy waters of big time Division I football recruiting. Shy’s stepfather, John Brewer, Steven’s dad, Steve Clark, and Trey’s father, Ron Dunkelberger, were gracious enough to talk to me about what it’s like watching your son blossom into a star, and keep them afloat through the overwhelming process we call football recruiting.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including,,,, and, 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
  • Mark Bradwick

    Great story…loved reading about the whole recruiting industry, most of it solely there to line the pockets of the recruiting services.