Who Is Cody Jamieson?

Will Cody Jamieson be a key at Syracuse? (Ward LaForme Jr.)
Will Cody Jamieson be a key at Syracuse? (Ward LaForme Jr.)

One of the preseason’s most intriguing storylines has been Cody Jamieson, Junior A superstar and former Juco Player of the Year at Onondaga Community College. Despite that pedigree, many NCAA fans don’t know a thing about Jamieson’s skills. Though we know Jamieson still wasn’t eligible as of Tuesday night, we hear coach John Desko trying hard to dilute expectations and we know some transition is to be expected, we felt it was important for NLL Insider editor Bob Chavez to reveal the player behind the hype.

Your conversation with just about anyone who knows Cody Jamieson is how the guy will do anything to win a lacrosse game, and that includes Jamieson himself.

“I keep trying to talk my coaches into letting me run some long pole,” says the talented attackman, quickly adding that it’s more of a joke than a suggestion. “I’m tired of getting whacked. I want to do some whacking.”

Fact is, it’s very likely Jamieson will find more long poles in his wake rather than in his hands. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound left-hander out of Six Nations arrives on the campus of Syracuse University amid much hoopla over his offensive talent and scoring touch. Still, there is a bit of mystery as to just who Jamieson is and what he’s capable of bringing to the ‘Cuse as it prepares for the 2009 season and defense of its NCAA championship.

There’s also the question of whether Jamieson will be allowed to play for SU as the school awaits a waiver from the NCAA regarding a course he took at Onondaga Community College. He’s currently practicing with the SU team as a full-time student, but as of this morning, Jamieson and SU are still awaiting word from the NCAA, though sources told IL the reigning NLLInsider.com Junior A Player of the Year could be declared eligible prior to this Sunday’s season opener at the Carrier Dome.

It’s a waiting game, to be sure, but if it’s game you want, it’s game Jamieson’s got. The early word is that he can do for the SU offense what fellow Six Nations player Sid Smith did for the SU defense last year. That is, he’ll bring a cool demeanor, slick skills and leadership by example. Sure, he put up some big numbers in box lacrosse with 101 points in 28 games last summer and capped it by winning the Tom Longboat Award as Canada’s top Aboriginal athlete. It’s the same award Smith won in 2007.

Yet before you try to explain how box skills aren’t easily translated to the field game, consider this: In two seasons at OCC, Jamieson scored 122 goals with 115 assists. The Lazers were 33-0 and won two NJCAA championships in which Jamieson was the MVP of both title games. (See highlights of Jamieson’s OCC career below)

“His legs are strong as an ox and he can just fly,” says OCC coach Chuck Wilbur, who quantifies Jamieson’s JUCO domination by stating that half of the players on his OCC roster have gone on to play Division I lacrosse. “He plays so hard and he does everything.”

Great hands and elusive on the floor, can Jamieson succeed in the Dome?
Great hands and elusive on the floor, can Jamieson succeed in the Dome?

So if he does everything, why is he an attackman? Jamieson says he arrived at OCC as a midfielder, but an already light attack unit was hit by injuries and he volunteered to switch. So instead of just scoring goals, Jamieson’s heart and hustle translates into being a vulture for ground balls and a hound on the ride. That’s why some feel fans won’t really be able to witness the entire spectrum of Jamieson’s talent.

“He’s going to have to be more of a one-dimensional player at SU,” explains Scott Smith, general manager and director of team operations for the indoor Six Nations Arrows. “That’s just the nature of the (field) game.”

Jamieson says he won’t feel too cooped up as an attackman, but he maintains he’ll be the cliche and “do whatever it takes.” A big part of his comfort zone at Syracuse is having Sid Smith, his roommate at SU, help with the acclimation.

“He gives me pointers here and there, but I learn a lot by just watching him,” Jamieson says of Smith. “He’s got that calm presence and he doesn’t get too jacked up. And having a familiar face around is nice.”

Regy Thorpe, general manager and defender for the National Lacrosse League Rochester Knighthawks, is coach of the Junior Arrows and says Jamieson reminds him of Gary Gait, John Grant Jr. and John Tavares, three names you don’t toss around lightly when making comparisons.

“He’s got phenomenal hands,” says Thorpe. “He’s a little shorter than those guys, but he plays big and he’s such a good finisher. He’ll crank up the shooting percentage at SU because he can finish.”

Big numbers and jaw-dropping plays come standard with Jamieson’s game, but this past summer saw a maturity emerge that wasn’t always there. Yes, he helped the Arrows advance to the Minto Cup finals, but the stronger expression of that maturity came when Jamieson opted for college over turning pro and being the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NLL Entry Draft.

“You can’t eat a lacrosse ball,” says Thorpe of the importance of an education for post-lacrosse playing days.

The anticipation of Jamieson’s debut is generating plenty of excitement and he’s staying sharp in practices with the Orange. Of course, all the questions of Jamieson will persist until he takes the field for a game, but those who know him and know his game advise us all to hang on. We’re in for a treat because, they say, lacrosse is lacrosse and catching, passing and shooting is still catching, passing and shooting — whether it’s indoors or outdoors.

“I’m just another guy trying to do what he loves,” says Jamieson, who requested No. 43 to honor Marshall Abrams, a Six Nations assistant coach and SU alum. “I love playing lacrosse and I want to see how far it takes me.”

No doubt, SU would love to see how far he can take the Orange.

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Video Highlights

Native Americans in Lacrosse (Featuring Jamieson)
Jamieson Interview from SU’s Media Day
OCC Highlights (2007 NJCAA Finals)
Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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