February 1, 2012

Palmer is ready to wear Orange

The Syracuse offense has been a source of instability over the past several seasons, with head coach Doug Marrone quickly hiring and then firing Rob Spence before taking over as offensive play-caller himself for a year. Last season Marrone handed over this task to Nathanial Hackett, the Orange's former quarterbacks coach who was promoted to offensive coordinator. While some questioned Hackett's ability late in the season during Syracuse's five-game losing streak, Marrone appears to be sticking with the young coach for the time being.

But coaching changes are all-too common at the college level. Just look at the fact that Doug Marrone, entering just his fourth year at Syracuse, is now the longest-tenured football coach in the Big East Conference.

The good news is that at least one recruit from this year's high school class will be prepared. Two-star recruit Omari Palmer, an offensive tackle from Long Island, has seen four different offenses during his time at Longwood High School. Thus perhaps it is no surprise then that he views adaptability as his biggest strength.

Palmer said that his freshman year at Longwood he played mostly in a spread formation before the offense switched to a flex system his sophomore year that required more movement. His junior year he then played in a pro-style "I" formation with lots of pull and trap blocks before switching to a combination system for his senior season that included multiple packages.

However there is one aspect of his game that Palmer feels like he did not get to work as much on during his high school career, particularly in his senior season.

"I feel my pass protection could have been better," Palmer said. "Granted we weren't in a pass-heavy offense, but I have been to multiple camps, multiple combines, I've talked to different coaches, I know how it should be done, but since I didn't work on it that much during the season I feel I have to get better at that for college."

Indeed Palmer admits that he has a lot of work to do to adjust to the college level. In fact he said he is still a little "baffled" that he was recruited by Division I schools like Syracuse.

"Physically I have to get stronger," he said. "I have to work harder than I would being a high school player. … The kids are going to be all my size, all stronger than me, all faster than me, so I'm going to really have to work hard on that to physically catch up."

In the end, it was the perfect proximity from his hometown that led Palmer to Syracuse. He has already verbally committed to the program and will formally sign his letter of intent Wednesday at 8 AM.

"I didn't want to be too far from home," he said. "I wanted to be close enough where I could come back if something happened, if they needed me I could be back in a second. But I didn't want to be too close where I would see my mom or my dad every weekend."

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