Picture yourself walking into a football locker room and seeing the Heisman Trophy, portraits immortalizing legends like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis, and a banner commemorating a national title.
Not bad for a "second" choice, right?
That's exactly the atmosphere Boxford's Clay Cleveland walked into during a late recruiting trip last winter as he feasted his eyes on the campus of Syracuse University.
"I got chills," said Cleveland. "Just the history — to see those photos, the trophies when you walk into the (athletic) complex. It's a cool thing to be a part of."
What began as a fallback option collegiately for the Phillips Andover and Masconomet Regional product turned into the perfect solution. Cleveland will join the Orange as fullback this fall.
"It was late," Cleveland said of his recruitment to Syracuse. "I probably didn't start talking to them until the middle of February because I thought I'd be playing in the Ivy League."
A 6-foot-1, 220-pound specimen, Cleveland got looks from Dartmouth, Princeton and Delaware coming out of Masconomet in 2009. He elected to do a post-graduate year at Phillips intent on cementing a chance at the Ivies, but it just wasn't meant to be.
"I didn't send my (highlight) tape to many Division 1-A schools because I was so set on Ivy," Cleveland recalled. "My test scores just weren't quite there, though, and even then my I-A options were limited because a lot of schools don't use a fullback."
The 19-year-old Cleveland also drew interest from Division 1 squads Miami of Ohio and Connecticut, but Orange coach Doug Marrone's Pro-Set offense made the most sense for him.
"The Big East is the Big East," Cleveland said of Syracuse's conference. "When I went up to Syracuse, it hit me that this is where I want to be. They didn't sign any fullbacks and they had an injury (at that position) in the spring."