Syracuse University football senior Kingsley Jonathan was driving back to campus with a teammate after a trip to the mall last winter when they spotted a group of homeless men huddling under a cover to escape the snow and bitter cold. He spotted one man who didn’t even have a sweatshirt to wear.
Saddened by the sight, the SU defensive lineman started brainstorming ways to help and ultimately created the hoodie drive, dropping bins and boxes around campus practice facilities to collect unused sweatshirts to donate to those who need them most in the area.
Jonathan stated during a recent media Zoom that he is hoping to start the initiative again soon for this winter, which is one of several charitable causes that the native of Lagos, Nigeria, has happily undertaken during his SU tenure.
He was recently named one of 20 national semifinalists for the Jason Witten Man of the Year Award.
“That’s what prompted (the hoodie drive), we were like: ‘Yeah, that’s something that we need to do something about at least,’” Jonathan said. “So getting back to the locker room I talked to the guys and they were all into it, we had a big bin full of hooded sweatshirts donated here or there.”
He added: “We’re going to keep doing that this year, we’re going to put that box out and guys will keep putting hoodies in there that they don’t use anymore, because somebody has to use them.”
Jonathan has been just as helpful on the field for the Orange (1-8 overall, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) and will lead SU into a conference game at noon Saturday against North Carolina State at the Carrier Dome. Spectators will not be permitted due to state COVID-19 mandates, officially ending the home slate without fans in attendance for the duration of the season.
The 6-foot-3, 264-pound senior has recorded 28 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and a pair of sacks, to go with a forced fumble and two pass breakups as a full-time starter this year. For his career, Jonathan has tallied 77 tackles, 14 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 41 games.
The information management and technology major has maintained a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher and been named to the SU athletic director’s honor roll for every semester of his SU tenure. He was named to the All-ACC Academic Team and garnered CoSIDA Academic All-District honors last year.
The hoodie drive was one of many ways in which Jonathan has impacted the surrounding community. He has also made appearances at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, and recently started serving on the new Diversity and Inclusion Student-Athlete Board. The SU initiative aims to foster better communication between athletes and their teammates, administration, and university overall.
Syracuse coach Dino Babers said that he hopes Jonathan will take advantage of the NCAA ruling for an extra year of eligibility for fall and winter athletes and return to continue his positive influence on the Orange next year, but believes he will have multiple job offers and plenty to consider.
“He is a quiet leader that when he speaks, he’s EF Hutton,” Babers said. “As a coach you would love for him to speak more, but when he does, it’s like, it’s deep, it’s: ‘Let my people go,’ type of speeches. Everyone is absolutely listening.”
Jonathan is one of five athletes among the 20 members of the ACC Search Advisory Committee to select the conference’s next commissioner, and was named one of three athletes from the ACC to represent his peers on NCAA rule changes under the Division I Autonomy process.
Jonathan is also a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy and Wuerffel Trophy, both of which are awarded to athletes who best combine athletic and academic success with community service efforts.
“You can just tell when you talk to him in person, this is a man of character and a man of class,” fellow senior defensive lineman Josh Black said. “He believes that everything should be the best possible opportunity for everybody, and he’s just a great guy.”
Legendary SU and Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little had planned to enter hospice care this week in his fight against a rare form of cancer, which was revealed in a poem written by Watertown native Patrick Killorin and posted to his Facebook page.
Little starred in the Orange backfield from 1964-66 and scored 35 career rushing touchdowns to tie for second in SU history to go with 2,704 rushing yards, good for sixth on the program’s all-time list.
He is one of the team icons that helped build the prestige of the No. 44 and is one of three players with a bronze statue at the SU practice facilities, along with Jim Brown and Ernie Davis.
Killorin was the starting center blocking for Little during the 1964 and ’65 seasons and has provided several updates throughout his battle on the Go Fund Me page and via social media.
Syracuse true freshman quarterback JaCobian Morgan missed practice Tuesday, according to a report by Stephen Bailey of 247Sports, and his status is in question for Saturday’s home finale against North Carolina State.
Morgan started the last two games but left with an apparent head injury in last Friday’s 30-0 loss at Louisville. If he is unable to play, SU would be down to redshirt senior Rex Culpepper and true freshman Dillon Markiewicz under center.
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