Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Melifonwu Sticks With Syracuse, Despite Late Michigan Offer

With his mother at his side, Grafton star Ifeatu Melifonwu made it official, signing with Syracuse Wednesday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Even late interest from one of football's most recognizable coaches, and an offer to play for one of the NCAA's most prestigious programs didn't sway Grafton's Ifeatu Melifonwu.

The star athlete, who helped lead Grafton to the MIAA Division 3 state championship game at Gillette Stadium in December, officially signed with Syracuse, the school he committed to last summer, during a ceremony in the school library Wednesday.

Melifonwu's destination was one of the state's biggest questions heading into National Signing Day, as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh personally attended one of Melifonwu's basketball games earlier this month, and the Wolverines formally extended a scholarship offer last Friday, just as Melifonwu was leaving Ann Arbor for a final trip to Syracuse.

"It was pretty cool having (Harbaugh) here, because it was kind of like having a celebrity," Melifonwu said with a chuckle. "But really I just felt comfortable at Syracuse. The coaching staff is great. They've always been honest with me, and that's rare, so I've formed a great relationship with them."

Melifonwu was primarily recruited by Syracuse defensive coordinator Brian Ward, with some help from secondary coach Nick Monroe, but also chose the Orange because they kept his options open when it came to choosing a position. The 6-foot-3 athlete said he is relishing the chance to play either corner or safety in the Syracuse's Cover 2, where his length should be a major asset, but said he could also end up with the ball in his hands.

"Another thing was (the Syracuse coaches) said I might be able to play running back," Melifonwu said. "So don't be surprised to see me back there."

Considering Melifonwu rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns on an absurd 9.4 yards per carry for the Indians last year, that might not be a bad idea.

Stay tuned for more Massachusetts National Signing Day coverage all day on SuiteSports.

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