first_img Published on August 19, 2015 at 5:21 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman FORT DRUM, N.Y. – When Syracuse first came to Fort Drum for training camp in 2012, the planning for what is now an annual tradition didn’t start until the middle of the summer.Then-head coach Doug Marrone brought the Orange to interact with soldiers. It was a toned-down affair featuring a few static display tables with weapons and equipment, and a “very personal and small” setting, said Capt. Greg Durso, the event’s project manager. Durso, now 27, and one other service member, organized activities and improvised along the way with very little support.On Tuesday morning at the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, freshman offensive tackle Colin Byrne stepped away from the mass of players several times to peer in the back of a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter, an aircraft the service member addressing the team called the fastest in the U.S. Military. Freshman offensive guard Sam Clausman laid on his stomach with camouflage stringing draped over him while he peered into the scope of a sniper. Sophomore quarterback AJ Long climbed through the roof of a Humvee and posed for pictures while holding its launching mechanism.For Durso, who was involved with the Orange’s first, second and fourth visits — he was serving in Afghanistan during the third — the whole experience has evolved. The 10th Mountain Division’s increased resources allowed it to fascinate the players on a new level in 2015.“We have seniors now on the team who have seen this for four years,” he said. “We need to give them something different.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThree summers ago, Syracuse sent Fort Drum a list of things they wanted from the trip. They expressed interest in the full boot camp experience, Durso called it, which included typical associations with Army life: drill sergeant hats, Army members yelling at their inferiors and being woken up at 5 a.m.When SU sent its proposed schedule, it had a scrimmage planned for Thursday. Durso and other personnel thought Marrone wanted his team to scrimmage the soldiers, before being relieved when learning when it would just be an intra-squad affair.“It’s interesting to see how much we actually have in common but at the same time it’s also nice to see we’ve chosen a particular path that has us doing a very particular set of things every day,” Durso said. To prepare for Syracuse coming up north, setups are now more elaborate. One agency manages the coordination of bus schedules, another the housing for the players and one more manages the setup and safety of the obstacle courses, which will be especially relevant Wednesday.Players will be taking off from a rappel tower 45-50 feet in the air. It’s the first year Durso has done anything involving fear with the players, and he compared the exercise to dealing with pregame nerves since the coping mechanisms are identical.The activity isn’t about the technique, but rather how to overcome fear.“You take any play for instance and say, ‘I’ve done this 1,000 times. I no longer worry about what I have to do and I’m just going to go ahead and do it,’” Durso said. “We do the same thing in the army in terms of repetitions so we’re going to give them a small taste of our version of what that is.”Last year, Syracuse emblazoned a symbol in honor of the 10th Mountain Division’s logo on its jerseys. This year, players wore shirts with the logo on front and the saying “Why Not Us?” on back. The tradition of training at Fort Drum has become more intertwined in the everyday operations of Orange football. And for Durso, who’s been there since the beginning, the direct relationship between soldiers and players has taken off as well.“It’s gotten much larger and the partnership has gotten much stronger in the last couple years,” he said. “We’re on a whole new level.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img