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April 25, 2013

Scott Shafer

COACH SHAFER:  With that spring ball went well, and we went into it with the goal and objective of creating a high intensity and high level competition and wanted that bar to be set high, and I felt like the kids did a nice job especially in the second half of spring ball playing with great tempo and the competition moves forward.  So we're excited to get started into the next phase.

Q.  How important is a class that just graduated has it been since you've been there in the school and the revitalization of the program?
COACH SHAFER:  I'm sorry, could you repeat the first part of that question?

Q.  Ryan and Alec, the guys that are leaving, how important have they been to the program in elevating it from what it was?
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, they've been essential to the success of the program.  When we first got the job here under Coach Marrone, that was our first class, and we inherited some red‑shirt freshmen.  Then went out and recruited that class.  You could argue that is the best class that we've had.  Starting with Ryan Nassib who broke a lot of records here at Syracuse and thrown to Alec Lemon who broke a lot more, wide receivers coach now.  He actually broke records when he was a player here.  Then Marcus Sales.
So in the passing game we lost really the three most influential people.  In the front we lost two starters that you could argue were our best players in Justin Pugh, and Jack Chibane, then on defense we lost our leading tackler.  So we have an uphill battle to replace those kids as football players.
But as you mentioned, essentially, they were also our leaders that took the program from really the depths of the NCAA to winning a couple of bowl games and having some real success both on offense and defense, and ultimately getting the Big East championship or a share of it this past year.

Q.  Has their success opened doors for you that may not have been opened four years ago as far as recruiting goes?
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, I think any time you have success, a couple of things happen.  It's easier to go ask for money and people to give it up.  So also it's a little more sexy on the recruiting trail.
Our program is extremely excited to be part of the ACC and work up and down the eastern seaboard.  Do a good job of recruiting, and getting around and working in the pockets that we've worked at in the past.  Now we on look forward to working at with more familiarity with the schedule we'll be playing.

Q.  How does the QB position look to you coming out of the spring?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, it's definitely the middle of competition.  Someone asked me the other day, is it controversial?  And I said, hell yeah.  We've got a quarterback controversy.  We don't know who we're starting yet.  I've seen good progress.  I think Coach Lester and Coach McDonald have done a done a nice job with the kids in house.
Terrell Hunt, John Kinder, and Charley Loeb are the three guys in house that are competing right now, and they know we've got help on the way.  We have some freshmen coming in and some transfers.  So the more the merrier.
I think competition is the best motivator for any position.  Don't want to talk about the most physical at the quarterback position.  But I would say coming out spring Terrel Hunt probably has a little bit of the lead.  But 15 practices and not all of them are padded, and that sort of deal, we don't want to put all our marbles into what happened in just 15 days, but I've been pleased with their progress.
We've got three quality young men competing right now at that position, and we look forward to the new bees getting in here and increasing the value of the quarterback position here.

Q.  You don't just have a new QB and a new coach.  But you have a new conference.  Is there anything in the approach to Syracuse football change as you go from a Big East program to an ACC program?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, I think first and foremost, you've got to know who you are and who you aren't.  You've got to embrace who you are and not worry about who you really aren't.  That will be our focus starting off.
It's going to be a new territory.  We've played a lot of teams in the ACC over the years both here at Syracuse and at different schools I've been at.  So I'm really familiar with the quality of the athletes and the quality of coaching in that conference.  So it will be a hell of a challenge for us, a challenge we can't wait for though.

Q.  Coach, you're obviously so passionate about football.  I think it was obvious at your opening news conference.  Where does the passion come from?  Are you passionate in everything do you in life?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, I'd say there are some things more than others.  But football is an area that I've watched since I was a little kid.  My father was a high school coach in Ohio and had a lot of success I measured his success to the kids' lives he had an opportunity to influence.
Only the good die young, and he was one of those folks that died at a really young age.  I can remember at his calling hours and funeral, just the influence he had on so many people.  It wasn't just great players, but it was some of the kids that were managers, some of the kids that were probably the least talented on the team that came up and spoke to our family about the influence he had and just promoting a positive environment to learn how to become a man.
Throughout the years as a coach, whenever I'm in a situation of making a major decision with a kid, I think back to those days and what would my dad have done?  I think that's where the passion comes from.
We all love the X's.  We all love the O's.  We love the opportunity to recruit and get out there and try to get the best players.  But for me when a kid walks across and get his degree and a lot of people told him he couldn't and he used the vehicle of athletics and football to get there, that's when we've done our job.  That's what makes me most passionate about the sport is the opportunity we give others.
Then you get on the field and the frosting on the cake is the football, the touchdowns, the memories on the football field.  But the underlining fact that those kids are better off than they were prior to arriving at each university we've been at is really what establishes my passion for the game.

Q.  You mentioned the three guys primarily in the running for quarterback.  Where does Ashton Broyld fit in this year?  I assume he's not in the quarterback mix.  What do you see for him?
COACH SHAFER:  We're going to use him everywhere.  He's one of the best athletes on the team.  He can run.  He can catch.  He can throw.  Hell, he could play outside linebacker.  He's that type of an athlete.
We're going to keep him on offense, and we're going to try to be creative and innovative with him.  All of those things aforementioned will be all inclusive with the game plan.  So just excited to get him on the field, move him around, try to create match‑up problems and have some fun with him with a kid that can do a lot of things.

Q.  Speaking of potential play makers, can you give us an idea how your receiver position looks this spring with Alec and Marcus both gone?
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, Jarrod West had a good spring game and had a good spring.  He did a nice job.  Then we got a handful of kids that are in fight.  It's a good fight.  They're all fighting for playing time.  At times they looked really good with some things, and at other times they looked like they were a long ways away.
But at the end of the day the competition was the part I liked most about it.  So I think really Jarrod is the one guy, and Adrian Flemming is the guy that did some things that I was extremely excited about, as well as Ashton.  Ashton got banged up early, and we were smart with him and got him healed up.  Those are the three that jumped out at me the most.  You know, we'll just see how the other guys compete as we get a little bit closer to the season.

Q.  How did Funderburk look to you?
COACH SHAFER:  He made a couple good plays here and there, but he's got to work on his consistency.  He's shown flashes of being a good player.  Big key with him and the rest of them that I didn't mention is taking care of the football, running discipline routes, consistency so the quarterback feels good about where they're going to finish up in the routes and that sort of thing.
But good group of kids.  They worked extremely hard, and I was pleased with the way Coach Moore brought them along from day 1 today 15.

Q.  Four months into the job, how do you feel settling into the job and leading this program?  What would you say is the state of the program now as you see it compared to when you came aboard with Coach Marrone back in '09?
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, big question.  I expect that from you.  You've got a lot of juice and so do we.  So I'll try to answer it as best I can.  I think the state of the program is in a great place because I think the kids know who we are and what we expect of them.  I think Coach Marrone, being part of Coach Marrone's staff the last four years, I think he laid a great foundation for what we expect out of our kids and how we want to develop them as people first and players second.  We've taken that ball and run with it.
Now with that being said, we've lost some really good football players.  You look at the productivity of the players that have moved forward and hoping to get in the NFL and have their day up there.  And you say, boy, there are a lot of voids there.  How are they going to replace it?
Well, that's the excitement about college football.  There are replacements.  There are kids that have been working their tails off to get on the football field, and we have a bunch of them.  The state of that is they're competing their ass off, and we can't wait to see who is going to win and who we're going to have to share time with at all those different positions.
But the state of the union is good.  The bar is high going into the ACC, and going up against these great coaches in this conference, but we're excited and we can't wait to get there.  We're running there as fast as we can, and look forward to getting all these freshmen in house so we can add to our numbers.
Other than that, we feel great about it and excited about where we're headed.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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