Lowell High senior inside linebacker Shyheim Cullen gave a verbal commitment to Syracuse University earlier today, he confirmed tonight to ESPNBoston.com
The 6-foot, 215-pound Cullen gave a pledge to the Orange today while on a visit to campus for a prospect camp, where among other things he recorded a 36-inch vertical leap, 10-foot-1 broad jump and 4.4-second shuttle. In the past, he has recorded a 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range.
At the time of his commitment, Syracuse -- who offered last April -- was Cullen's lone Division 1 FBS offer. Cullen also received varying degrees of interest from Boston College, UConn, UMass, Temple, Rutgers, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island.
"I already had Syracuse on my mind. But after coming today and meeting the coaching staff, coming to school, that all drew me in," Cullen said. "It's a great environment for me. I just felt comfortable there.
"I was really excited [to commit], and I still am. I still can't believe I'm going to Syracuse. What stuck out most to me was how much the coaches cared about the athletes."
Cullen was one of just eight juniors selected to ESPN Boston's annual All-State Team last fall after leading the Red Raiders to the semifinals of the MIAA Division 1 North tournament. Manning the middle linebacker position in Florence's 3-5-3 defense, Cullen was particularly lethal on interior gap blitzes, recording 12 sacks to go along with 52 tackles.
At Syracuse, Cullen likely projects to outside linebacker, either at the weak or strong side.
"That's what they really like, how well I carry towards the ball," Cullen said. "They say I have incredible explosiveness and speed when it comes to that. When they watch my highlight film and see me jumping over people and stuff like that, that really attracts them."
When he arrives at Syracuse in the fall of 2015, he will be the Orange's first recruit from Massachusetts since former offensive lineman Ryan Durand, a 2005 St. Bernard's graduate who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2009. Historically, though, the Orange have often landed some of the Bay State's best recruits for generations, from Diamond Ferri (Everett) to Rob Konrad (St. John's Prep) to the famed Morris brothers of Ayer High.
"It actually means a lot," Cullen said. "Especially coming from this area, Mass. kids don't get looked at by big schools such as Syracuse. I'm actually honored to go to Syracuse."