A snapshot of Tyrone Wheatley Jr.'s potential came during a league championship game this fall when the defensive end lined up on the nose of the center at the zero technique. As soon as the ball was snapped, Wheatley bowled over the center with such force he fell back into the quarterback and knocked him down, resulting in a short loss.

The play is indicative of the terror he caused opposing offenses, one of the 14 tackles for loss he racked up as a junior at Canisius High School in Buffalo. It is why Syracuse is hotly pursuing the state's top-rated high school prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, and it helps justify Bryce Hopkins' belief that "New York State hasn't seen a recruit like him in a long time."

"Every year there's maybe one or two prospects in New York State that have a whole slew of Division I offers from the major schools," said Hopkins, an assistant football coach and director of recruiting for Canisius. "But for a kid like TJ, who has the ability to play for a top school on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball, that athleticism, that talent, you don't find very often in New York State.

"TJ is the type of guy we will see playing on Sunday in a couple of years."

There are a couple of reasons Syracuse fans should be keeping a close eye on Wheatley over the next several months.

1. His father, Tyrone Wheatley, formerly had an office door not far from Scott Shafer's when he was the Syracuse running backs coach under ex-coach Doug Marrone.

2. TJ, who transferred to Canisius last summer from Fayetteville-Manlius, remains close friends with Shafer's son, Wolf, and several others from the Syracuse area.

There is comfort with Syracuse, so much so that Hopkins said the school is high on Wheatley's list. But this is a list that also includes scholarship offers from schools such as Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, USC, Miami, Florida and Wisconsin, according to 247Sports.com, and when was the last time Syracuse beat out a batch of blue-blooded programs for a high-end recruit?

To be clear, Wheatley is in the "listening phase," as Hopkins described it. Schools call daily asking about him. More offers will roll in, and Wheatley will then begin to map out more of his visits. He is scheduled to take a trip to Florida over spring break to visit several southern schools.

"He's in no rush to make a decision," Hopkins said. "He's the type of kid that will have his pick of pretty much wherever he wants to go."

Syracuse will get its shot to make a strong impression on Wheatley soon. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough is the main recruiter for the region and will likely make a trip to Canisius during the spring evaluation period. And in June, Wheatley and several of his teammates are expected to camp at Syracuse.