Syracuse center inspired by grandfather

Every now and then, Syracuse center Macky MacPherson will take a look at his grandfather’s 1987 national coach of the year trophy. It’s in their Syracuse home, along with some old Sports Illustrated covers featuring the Orange, and a few other reminders of the program’s history.

It also happens to be MacPherson’s family history.

MacPherson still lives in the same house former coach Dick MacPherson lived in when he led the Orange to five bowl games and an 11-0-1 record in 1987. He still talks to his Hall of Fame grandfather at least once a week, and said he remains a major influence on his football career. Of all of the memorabilia and accomplishments that Dick MacPherson collected during his tenure with the Orange, his grandson said the most impressive thing is how much respect for him there still is in the community.

“It’s been 30 years since he was the head coach of the football team here, probably 26 years since he left Syracuse,” Macky said. “But still people recognize him and come up to him, and have nothing but good things to say to me about him. That’s something I really find fascinating and something I look up to him for, because not only was he a heck of a coach, he was a pivotal part of the community from what I can tell. I wasn’t alive when he was coaching here, but I wish I could have been sometimes.”

MacPherson, who downplays his role on the team as “just an offensive lineman, not a quarterback or a guy who scores touchdowns,” is one of the most recognizable names on the roster to the Syracuse faithful. Not only does he have the pedigree, but he has also started every game in each of the past two seasons, and he will be the anchor of an offensive line that has to replace two starters on the left side. MacPherson’s grandfather is one of the biggest reasons he chose Syracuse over Harvard, and committed in April of his junior year, immediately after he was offered a scholarship.

“To me, it was always a dream to play at Syracuse, to have my grandfather see me line up in the orange and blue uniform, and go out there and take the field,” he said. “That was something I not only did for myself, because I was a huge SU fan, but I also did for my family, and most notably my grandfather.”

MacPherson has done well at upholding the family’s legacy. He was good enough to play as a true freshman in 2010, and last year he was named to the Rimington Trophy’s fall watch list. He has also spent four semesters on the athletic director’s honor roll. He'll be needed to guide some younger players this fall, as Cuse has to replace Zack Chibane and Justin Pugh, a potential first-round draft pick. If Syracuse is going to produce a 1,000-yard rusher for the sixth straight year, the line is going to have to come together quickly.

“That’s definitely something we take pride in, especially as an offensive line, but also as an offense,” MacPherson said. “We like to pride ourselves on running the ball, whether it’s from the receivers blocking, or even the quarterback will throw a block or two. Running the ball is definitely a priority for us on offense because it sets up so much of our offense that it’s something we really need to make sure we’re able to do.”

With a new coach, a new quarterback and two new starters on the offensive line -- not to mention a new conference -- there is plenty of motivation at Syracuse this spring. MacPherson, though, is only a phone call away from his greatest source of inspiration.