We've been spoiled the last couple seasons. Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue have anchored the linebacking spot so well that we just took it for granted when the duo accounted for 209 tackles in 2010. We assumed they'd be here forever. Or at least I did. I don't understand how this whole "graduation" thing works yet.
Now they're both gone, hopefully to pro careers. What's left in their wake and how will the Orange move forward at this all-important position?
The good news is that the experience Marquis Spruill received in 2010 is going to pay dividend in 2011. Despite playing strongside LB this past season, Spruill is moving back to the position he played in high school, middle linebacker.
Shafer said coaches decided to teach Spruill an outside linebacker position so he could play more in 2010, with the idea of moving him back to the middle someday.
One would expect that the door now opens for senior Ryan Gillum to reclaim his former spot in the starting lineup. That's when you check the SU roster and realize that Gillum isn't on it anymore. Rahme doesn't even mention Gillum in his article today, which apparently makes this old news. Yet, I can't find an article on Gillum leaving the team anywhere.
Update: Turns out Gillum was announced on Senior Day and will graduate this May. Good work, gumshoes.
The hard-luck case missed the 2008 season with an injury, briefly started in 2009 and spent most of 2010 on the injury list. According to his Twitter feed, he's still enrolled at SU and still working hard. Perhaps the injuries piled up. Whatever the reason, fare thee well Ryan.
In his wake, that leaves a lot of young, untested players with a chance to step up this season. According to Scott Shafer, he's already got it all mapped out:
Shafer said junior Dan Vaughan (6-2, 214) and Siriki Diabate (6-0, 218), a junior college transfer from Nassau Community College, will get work at strongside linebacker, typically more of a run-stopping position than weakside linebacker.
Backing up Spruill in the middle will be rising sophomore Lewellyn Coker.
So in theory, our defense could have a Shamarko, Shu-tang and Siriki playing all at the same time. I like where this is going.
There's also two incoming freshmen, Cameron Lynch and Oliver Vigille, but they won't get here until the summer so it's tough to say if they'll be able to make any impact.