FB Recruiting Notebook : Hart considers SU 3 years after star brother spurned hometown Orange
When Chris Hart found himself facing surgery in the middle of last season, the Onondaga High School star knew just who to call. Older brother Mike Hart was riding the bench at Michigan thanks to injuries of his own.
‘We both experienced the same thing,’ Chris Hart said. ‘You know, something that we love, we weren’t able to go out and do. Just tell each other you can get through it, and stuff like that.’
In 2004, Mike Hart turned down an offer from Syracuse to play for Lloyd Carr and Michigan. He is currently second in the Big 10 with 1,032 rushing yards and third with eight touchdowns. After coming back from injury this year, Chris Hart lists Syracuse as one of his choices for next season.
Hart already visited SU, touring the campus and meeting with head coach Greg Robinson. Hart said he was impressed with everything he saw on the Hill. However, the Orange’s early season success left an even stronger impression.
‘Syracuse is there,’ Hart said. ‘They’re shocking everyone with what they’re doing. I wouldn’t want to go to a team that doesn’t have a win. Syracuse winning is making (me) think twice, and really look at going there.’
Hart also paid visits to Connecticut, Michigan State and Michigan, with a trip to Northeastern still in the works.
Despite seeing positives at both Syracuse and UConn, Hart said no single school has ‘blown him away’ yet. With last season’s surgery setting him back, Hart is still waiting to receive offers.
The injury came at a tough time for Hart. He only played in four games last year, limiting recruiters’ early interest. The surgery itself was merely preventative, Onondaga head coach Jason Ryan said. Hart had a bone cyst on his knee that could have become worse if left alone.
Ryan said Hart has come back better than ever, helping to lead Onondaga into the playoffs with an undefeated record.
‘I would say (he’s) 100 percent, if not better,’ Ryan said. ‘He worked out pretty hard getting back to where he was, and he just kept that level of intensity. He’s really in pretty good shape now.’
Ryan is amazed by Hart’s pure leadership qualities. After taking over the Tigers this year, Ryan said Hart made his job much easier by being Onondaga’s on-field leader.
‘He’ll do exactly what you tell him,’ Ryan said. ‘If he doesn’t, he can make up for it with pure athleticism.’
Thanks to his brother, Ryan said, Hart brings plenty of football smarts to the field. The two still talk on the phone after every game, critiquing each other. Ryan said Mike Hart is even harder on his younger brother than he is.
The elder Hart also offers some advice, having been heavily recruited himself. Chris Hart still remembers visiting schools with his brother when he was just a high school freshman.
‘It was crazy,’ Hart said. ‘It was a lot of fun, following him. It was fun while it lasted. Being with him, and getting all the attention. It was good.’
Today, his older brother keeps telling Hart to savor the moment. Hart said he enjoys when college coaches call him. Now, with his injury a distant memory, Hart is getting calls everyday from college recruiters. Some of those calls are coming from Syracuse.
As for where the Orange sits on Hart’s list, it seems like a case of the home team being at a disadvantage.
‘I wouldn’t mind Syracuse,’ Hart said. ‘Syracuse is a great place. It’s right up the road. Only thing is I’ve been trying to get out of Syracuse. I’ve been here my whole life.’
Bishop Guertin’s (N.H.) Mark Spinney made a verbal commitment to the Orange last week. Syracuse’s 16th commitment for 2007 is a Scout.com four-star recruit who ranks as the 20th-best offensive guard in the country.
Spinney said the direction of the program and the quality of the school academically were major factors in his final decision. With his choices narrowed down to three, Spinney decided to pull the trigger last week.
Spinney’s father, Steve, played for SU in the 1970s. The elder Spinney said he was excited to have his son heading for upstate New York.
‘It’s kind of neat to think about the next four years,’ Steve Spinney said. ‘Heading out to Syracuse and watching Mark play there. Then, hooking up with some of my friends, and going back to my old haunting grounds. It’s going to be a lot of fun.’
Mark Spinney said he didn’t even think about his father’s playing days when he was deciding on Syracuse. Now that he’s committed, he admits with a chuckle, it’s funny to be following in his father’s footsteps. However, Spinney will get one experience his father never did: playing in the Carrier Dome.
‘It’s going be fun,’ Mark Spinney said. ‘It seems like a great place to play. I’m really excited to get in there, and get in the game.’
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