Even back when they played for the Orangetown Patriots, Jordan Landsman and Brian Syracuse were always the big kids. Nothing changed, not even as they aged and sprouted into full-grown teenagers competing against athletes from their county and beyond.
The fact that Landsman and Syracuse always had each other is not lost on them — not on a day as significant as this.
“Going against somebody with his size and skill level, it made me such a better player,” the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Landsman said. “In my opinion, he’s probably the best lineman I faced in the section all year. Going against him every day, it almost made practice harder than the games.”
What it also did was prepare them for college. Landsman and the 6-4, 275-pound Syracuse were celebrated at Nanuet on National Signing Day for their commitments. Both will play at the Division I level with Landsman landing at Cornell and Syracuse at Monmouth.
“The Nanuet program has been really great with coach (Rich) Conklin and now coach (Phil) Carbone. They really push us to be the best we can be,” Syracuse said. “Me and Jordan were always big kids, but Nanuet helped us to become the Division I athletes we are today.”
Landsman, who will play defensive line, chose Cornell after mulling whether he wanted to play college football at all. He actually concluded it was Cornell or bust, but jumped at the opportunity when the staff offered him.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get into any school close to that without football,” Landsman said. “Once that came up, I almost couldn’t say no.”
Syracuse, an offensive lineman, followed a more standard formula, drawing his interest from a wider assortment of schools by attending camps following his junior season. He whittled the choices down to Monmouth, Stony Brook and Assumption, but Monmouth had been a strong possibility for him from the beginning.
“Me and Monmouth, we had talked for a long time,” he said. “It was continuous and we never lost contact. I always knew Monmouth would be there when I made my decision.”
Of course, the Class of 2016 in Rockland County actually produced three Division I linemen, including The Journal News county player of the year, Prince Emili. The 6-3, 298-pound defensive tackle from Clarkstown North picked Penn over three other Ivy League options: Harvard, Yale and Columbia.
Emili picked the reigning Ivy champs because of his affinity for the Quakers’ commitment to defense.
“I like what they have going on there. They just installed a new defense this year and it seemed to get the job done,” Emili said of Penn, which upset nationally ranked Villanova in addition to its conference title. “I love playing on a team with a dominant defense.”
Emili, whose father, Gregory, is a doctor, will juggle his football commitment with studying pre-med.
“I think it’s going to be hard, but I’m going to have to work through it,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been doing so far. I just have to stay focused.”
The three linemen were among several locals who have announced their commitments to play football at the Division I level and/or on scholarship.
Stepinac, the CHSFL and Catholic state champion, had three players sign with Stony Brook on Wednesday: Quarterback Tyquell Fields, defensive back T.J. Morrison and defensive lineman Robinson DeLaCruz. Scarsdale’s Michael Rolfe and Harrison’s Zach Evans will both join Emili at Penn, and both are expected to convert from defensive back to outside linebacker. Dobbs Ferry running back JIbril Kapadia signed with Colgate Wednesday.
Stepinac also had two players commit to Division II programs: defensive back Jay-char Howell (Southern Connecticut) and running back Kobe Miranda (AIC). New Rochelle quarterback Greg Powell (LIU Post) and former Somers linemen Sean and Steven Jennings (AIC) signed with Division II programs as well.