Syracuse lacrosse dips into the fountain of youth, nets high school freshman commit

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Desko received a verbal commitment from a frosh

Is youth the answer?

That must be what John Desko is hoping solves a five-year national title drought for the Syracuse men’s lacrosse program.

The Orange received a verbal commit in October from a 15-year-old freshman from Bedford, N.Y.—the first freshman commitment in Syracuse lacrosse history.

Matthew Magnan, a midfielder at Fox Lane High School, is expected to be a part of the 2018 recruiting class. He joined the Fox Lane varsity squad as an eighth grader, netting 18 goals and 3 assists.

Syracuse lacrosse isn’t alone in trying to lock up young talent. Johns Hopkins lacrosse received a verbal commit from a 16 year old earlier in 2014. Virginia and Duke do it too.

Meanwhile, The University of Texas women’s basketball program made headlines when it received a commitment from a 13-year-old San Antonio middle school prodigy. Also earlier this year, a Texas eighth grader verbally committed to the LSU football program despite not even playing a single down of varsity ball.

» Related: Has Syracuse lacrosse’s recruiting fallen off track?

Doesn’t it seem premature to put faith in a student who can’t even legally drive? I don’t remember much about being a 15-year-old other than being spontaneous, moody and maybe a little selfish. The decision of where to go to college requires so much maturity and thought. Yet, I would’ve been pretty stoked to receive interest from a college lacrosse program, let alone one like Syracuse.

Magnan’s commitment doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll suit up for the Orange. No high school student commitment is official until a national letter of intent is signed, which can’t be done until the offseason before a student’s senior year of high school. Magnan could, on a change of interest, decommit at any time.

There’s also no telling whether he’ll be an impact player for Syracuse. Coaches can evaluate talent, work ethic and physical and emotional maturity of young athletes but not much else. So much could change over the next few years. Magnan could get hurt or not develop into the type of player Syracuse needs.

Unfortunately, coaches can’t comment publicly on unsigned recruits. So is dipping into the pool of young athletes exploitation? Has the search for a competitive edge
gone too far?

Perhaps, but if the NCAA allows it and this is how the recruiting landscape is shaping up, isn’t Syracuse obligated to play the game?

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Dan Brannigan

About Dan Brannigan

Dan is currently the editor of Common Ground magazine for Community Associations Institute (CAI) where he has won an Association Media & Publishing award for newswriting. Dan has also won a New England Press Association award while working for the The Inquirer and Mirror in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he grew up. Dan is a 2005 Syracuse University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @djbranni.
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