Bronx (N.Y.) Cardinal Hayes defensive tackle Elijah Fuentes pledged to the Orange on Saturday, making him the third defensive tackle in the Class of 2021 along with Jaelin Moss and Terry Locket. His decision to come to Syracuse was bigger than just football.
"It's a great fit for me, they have what I want to major in and they have an idea of where I can fit in their defense," said Fuentes, who will major in Sport Management at Syracuse.
On whether it was a close call between 'Cuse and another school, Fuentes put it as straight forward as he could, seemingly ending the possibility that another school could attempt to flip his commitment.
"It was Syracuse all along," Fuentes said. "It was just to a point where I built a strong relationship with them that I'm choosing to play for them. I built a close relationship with coach Babers, coach Reynolds, coach Monroe, and coach White."
Fuentes' primary recruiter was defensive backs coach Nick Monroe who he talked to throughout the week while being recruited. Coach Monroe was instrumental in all areas of recruitment, not just football.
"He was always supportive and even set up meetings for me about the academics at Syracuse."
Regarding the new defensive scheme that Syracuse is implementing this season under brand new defensive coordinator Tony White, Fuentes is comfortable with the change and has the mentality you'd want in a teammate to go to battle with.
"They see me on the edge and will try me out at 3 tech a few times," Fuentes said. "I'll honestly play anything a coach needs me to play to help win games.
Fuentes is not the first linemen out of NYS in the Class of 2021. He speaks highly of his soon-to-be teammate, Jaelin Moss.
"I really feel Jaelin Moss can play a huge role in Syracuse's defense as well as he is a phenomenal player," Fuentes said.
On if he had a conversation with a fellow 2021 commit before making his decision, Fuentes said he spoke with Malcolm Folk, a defensive back who committed to Syracuse back in April and whose game he likes a lot.
Fuentes could be a difference maker for Syracuse on the field and he will also try to do the same off of it. His teammate and quarterback Henry Belin is the seventh-ranked player in the state of New York in the Class of 2022. When asked about if he'd help recruit his teammate to the Orange, Fuentes spoke glowingly of Belin.
"Of course (I'll help)," Fuentes said. "Henry can be great in any program he plays for."
When the Syracuse coaches were informed of Fuentes' decision, they were ecstatic.
"They were happy and excited for me," said Fuentes.
Fuentes is a happy man after his decision. What really hits home is his family's reaction to the decision, especially because Fuentes is staying in his home state.
"They were very excited and started singing New York songs," said Fuentes. "Probably 50 Cent. And the Alicia Keys song New York ft. Jay Z."
One could say, they were in an 'Orange State of Mind.'