When a Division 1 college football coach makes the jump to the pros, it can create a number of problems for the players left behind.
But when Doug Marrone left Syracuse this winter to take the job with the Buffalo Bills, former Masconomet star Clay Cleveland — currently a fullback for the Orange — was able to find a solution.
There weren’t a lot of snaps for a fullback in Marrone’s spread offense. But in first year skipper Scott Shafer’s pistol offense, Cleveland is making a major impact for Syracuse in a position most consider to be in its dying days.
“I started (in 2012) but we ran the spread offense and rarely used the fullback, so didn’t play as much as I would have liked,” said Cleveland. “The personnel groupings were mostly four or five wide receivers. I came in for couple short yardage situations, but nothing I got too excited about.”
This fall, it’s hard not to get excited about Cleveland if you’re a Syracuse fan or someone who’s followed the former Chieftain. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior isn’t just existing in the Orange offense; he’s contributing in a big way.
Against Tulane earlier in the fall, Cleveland caught his first and second career collegiate touchdown passes in Syracuse’s 52-17 win. The Orange call it a ‘flow pass’ as Cleveland appears to get lost in the shuffle before sneaking out of the backfield. Both times his number was called Cleveland answered, proving to be an extremely reliable goal-line threat.
“It was awesome. We have a couple of passes for the fullback at the goal line; fortunately, (Tulane’s) defensive scheme allowed me to be open and I was fortunate to catch the ball,” Cleveland explained. “I almost felt like it didn’t happen; it took me a couple of minutes after to realize. It was like a dream.”