East Islip quarterback Kevin Hutchinson (23) is sacked for a...

East Islip quarterback Kevin Hutchinson (23) is sacked for a loss by Bellport's Ryan Sloan (62) in the second half of the game. (Nov. 20, 2010) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Ryan Sloan, Bellport's first-team All-Long Island two-way tackle, is counting the days and the calories. He wants both to disappear quickly.

"I miss football so much. I'm looking forward to reporting on July 5. I can't wait to put the helmet on again," Sloan said Wednesday after making his destination for the next four years official.

With a video of the Clippers' 26-21 victory over Garden City in last fall's Long Island Class II championship playing on a large screen behind him and family, teammates, coaches and administrators in front of him, Sloan - 308 pounds and shrinking - signed his letter of intent to accept a full football scholarship to Syracuse.

The ceremony took place in Bellport High School's library, where Clippers teammate Mike Burton, a second-team All-Long Island linebacker/wide receiver, signed with C.W. Post.

"They want me to report at 290," said Sloan, who weighed 320 pounds at the end of football season and joined the Clippers' basketball team to run off some weight. "I don't know whether I'll play offense or defense; it doesn't matter to me. I'll be a kicker if they want. I'm just anxious to get started."

Heavily recruited by several major Division I schools, Sloan committed to play for the Orange on Oct. 1.

"I liked that the goal is for every player to get a degree," Sloan said. "There are people there that make sure you take care of your academics. They give you the tools to succeed. Then it's up to you."

Sloan also was impressed by second-year coach Doug Marrone's sales pitch.

"The coach is from the Bronx. He turned his life around just like I did," said Sloan, who overcame an accident that left him blind in his right eye at age 3. Sloan also lost his mother to heart failure in 2003, never knew his father, lived with his aunt for seven years and moved in with guardians Melissa and Edward Carson, parents of teammate Eddie Carson, in November.

"Mr. Carson always told me that if I needed anything, to let him know," Sloan said. "I needed a little structure in my life. He had space and they took me in."

The Carsons shared yesterday's magic moment with Sloan. "We're very proud," Edward Carson said. "We went up to visit Syracuse with him. This is a very special day."

After his commitment, Sloan became an instant Orange fan. He said he watched television, mesmerized, as Syracuse defeated Kansas State, 36-34, in the first Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30.

"That was the best game I've ever seen. I felt like I was on the sidelines rooting," Sloan said. "They've turned the program around. I have a chance to be a part of that, a part of something big."

Burton also felt a sense of belonging regarding his college choice. "It was a comfortable fit for me," Burton said of being a Pioneer. "The students interact with the teachers and vice versa. That's what I want. I was looking for more than just athletics."

Like Sloan, Burton's road to a scholarship was paved with ruts.

"My mom and I have been through a lot," Burton said. "I lived in five different states after my parents divorced. I was a hothead with a bad temper and got into fights. I came here in the eighth grade and that's when I got serious about football. Bellport has helped me athletically, academically and life-wise."

The best of Bellport was on display Wednesday.

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