Less than three weeks before he would have played before friends and family for Syracuse University in the first Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, former Riverhead star linebacker Malcolm Cater has been dismissed from the team following his arrest Saturday on felony burglary and grand larceny charges.
"We're surprised and saddened by the whole situation," Riverhead coach Leif Shay told Newsday Sunday. Shay said a Syracuse assistant coach had called him over the weekend with the news that the co-winner of Newsday's 2009 Hansen Award as the outstanding football player in Suffolk County had been removed from the team. "I had been texting him [Cater] a bunch of times during the season and he said everything was going well. That's why this is a shock."
Syracuse police accused Cater, 19, of burglarizing three apartments on the university's South Campus - two on Friday night and one during Thanksgiving break, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. He was charged with three counts of burglary and one count of grand larceny, all felonies, plus two misdemeanors.
Cater had a troubled childhood, including several run-ins with the law and having been shot in May 2008, but appeared to have straightened himself out after arriving at the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch in Riverhead as a court-appointed resident later that year. He told Newsday in a 2009 article, "It's a good thing and a blessing to play football and get an education. This is a chance at having a better life."
In a statement, Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone said, "I'm aware of the criminal charges filed against Malcolm Cater by the Syracuse Police Department. Cater is no longer part of the Syracuse football program."
Cater played in all 12 games for the 7-5 Orange, who will face Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30. Playing mostly on special teams, he made 13 tackles with one sack. He was known for his hard hits and was considered a strong candidate to replace senior Derrell Smith as the team's starting middle linebacker next season.
"Coach Marrone has to look out for the best interests of the program," Shay said of the second-year Syracuse coach's decision on Cater.