Inside Dairo Melendez and Charquez Lee’s Offer From Syracuse


Michael Yero, Writer

The opportunity to call yourself a Division I prospect doesn’t come around often at Immaculata-La Salle.

In the case of the ILS football team, that last time was in 2014, when Terrill Hanks went off to New Mexico State, after collecting 100 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions as a senior under head coach Willie Trimmer. Hanks went on to sign with the hometown Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2019 but was released months ago.

That said, under Helder Valle, the Lions have two underclassmen with an opportunity to put the school back on the map.

Sophomore Dairo Melendez Jr. and junior Charquez Lee both picked offers from Syracuse University on April 6, the first of their early recruitment stages.

For Melendez (6-foot-2, 275-pounds) and Lee (6-foot-2, 195-pounds) both prospects caught the attraction of safeties/nickelbacks coach Nick Monroe, who recruits the South Florida area for Syracuse. Valle has had ties with Monroe from his time at Westminster Christian. He ultimately asked Valle about his team and if any of his players should be on his radar. Valle proceeded to send the film of his top guys.

With a need for a defensive tackle and linebacker for the 2022 and 2023 class, Syracuse evaluated Melendez and Lee’s film for 48 hours as a staff before calling Valle to confirm that an offer was on the table. Because of the NCAA Recruiting Dead Period, the coaches could not contact the two. However, Monroe made it clear that they’ll be in touch once they’re allowed to.

Soon after, Valle called the two one-by-one, as Melendez was planning a workout while Lee was at the beach. Both were caught by surprise for obvious reasons but remained humble and hungry for what’s to come.

Lee looks to be the second person in his family to reach the collegiate level, joining his cousin Aldarius Johnson, a former four-star recruit and University of Miami wideout.

“He said to keep my head in the bucks and to not let anything distract me,” Lee said on what Johnson told him.

The all-around talent has also heard from USC and Western Kentucky, as he continues to garner interest through 7 on 7 football with Miami Immortals, a prestigious 7v7 team. Valle believes the young athlete has the opportunity to shine at inside linebacker by adding 40 pounds before graduating.

As for Melendez, he has the opportunity to break barriers in his family by becoming the first to be given an opportunity to go to college.

“There’s still a lot left to prove,” Melendez said. “I’m not even happy about it. I know I’m not done yet, I know I got a lot to prove to people, to LaSalle. Everybody’s going to NAIA or Division II, so I’m going Divison I if I continue putting in the work.”

With much more football left to be played and more lessons to be learned, the future is bright for the two headliners of Valle’s defense. Although it seemingly won’t be an issue with Melendez and Lee, it’s important the two take this offer with a grain of salt and keep it from remaining complacent with what’s to come.

“Getting an offer, for a kid, at such a young kid can do one or two things: motivate them to work harder or get them big-headed or get them lazier,” Valle said. “It’s good that they reacted in a way of being positive and wanting to have more, which is a good attitude to have.”

As for what this means to LaSalle athletics, Nicholas Fernandez, ILS’ Athletic Director since 2018-’19, he sees it as a chance to show the progression this school is making in all respective sports.

“It means a lot,” Fernandez said. “It means a lot for the coaching staff, it means a lot for the program and the direction we’re trying to go in. Having the kids, not only in our program but around the city see the opportunity that these kids are getting at our school puts us up to par with some of these big-time programs that have kids constantly get offered. I think it speaks volumes from where we started three years ago to where we are now. Being able to have players that are getting looked at at a national level is a game-changer for everything we’re trying to do over here.”