Syracuse Football: Get To Know Your Orange Man - #28 Jeremi Wilkes

Wilkes all serious and junk on Twitter. By the way, Wilkes' dreads are getting long. Judge Dread over there! Am I right people?

Let us keep the long tradition of GTKYO going. I mean this is something your grandkids' grandkids will be reading one day. Next up:

Name: Jeremi Wilkes

Position: Free Safety

Year: Junior

Height: 5'9"

Weight: 189

Hometown: Tampa, Fl

High School: Tampa Catholic

2011 Stats: Started 5 games, recording 41 total tackles (12 assisted) and 1 interception

2012 Projections: Wilkes is set to be the starting free safety this coming season. At a listed height of 5 foot 9, one would have to think Wilkes is probably even a couple inches shorter. Meaning, Wilkes is much smaller than your average secondary player. Granted, at free safety Wilkes is more of a ball-hawk not matching up in coverage one on one, but still, size will be a concern on a game-to-game, match up, basis for Wilkes.

Still, Wilkes was impressive getting to the ball last season. He has good closing speed and isn't afraid of big hits when needed. Those two intangibles can certainly outweigh any height concerns. With major problems in the secondary last season, Wilkes may have a lot to say about SU's success this season.

How'd He Get Here?: Just your average story of a recruit turning down the likes of Florida State, Louisville, and Iowa. Wait, what?

What Did Rivals/Scout Say?: Scout had Wilkes at a 2 star recruit, while Rivals went crazy and gave him 3 stars.

If you read what Scout wrote about Wilkes it sounds like the kid should have been a 5 star player. But, ultimately, Wilkes size was the reason he didn't earn more worthless stars:

'Wilkes has terrific instincts which allows him to break well on the ball. He plays physical on the edge and is an asset vs. the run because of his ability to tackle well in space. While he has good core strength, he lacks ideal height and will struggle vs. bigger wideouts in press coverage. He has the athleticism and quickness to play man coverage down the field.'

Links of Wonder: Wilkes was Wally Pipp to Shamarko Thomas' Lou Gehrig, minus the whole horrible disease thing later on in life. Thomas went down due to injury (and many other issues later in the season) after the USC game last season and in stepped Wilkes, to face the mighty Rockets of Toledo.

And had Wilkes not been involved as a starter in the game, I like to think the officials and the video replay officials probably call SU's missed extra point correctly. See, it is a magical story.

Money Quote: While Wilkes did choose SU over those schools, he was peeved that South Florida didn't recruit him. (His home town school. I still love that South Florida is based about 5 hours north of anything considered 'south' Florida.) Here's what Wilkes told Tampa Bay Online about playing USF, the school that didn't care enough, last year:

"I wasn't really recruited (by USF), so I just take that as ignition when we do play them. Hey, you've just got to ... show them what they missed out on.'"

Let's just forget how that game turned out, k?

Because we get paid per word (We do get paid, right?), here is an extra quote from Wilkes. This on his getting to start in the secondary after Thomas' season ending suspension later in the season:

'It helped a lot because my main role was just the ‘Okie. 'I just played a little base here and there, maybe if somebody got hurt. But definitely that game when Shamarko went down, it helped me a lot.'

Doug Marrone Thinks: And just to complete the story of his rise in the rotation, here's Marrone's take on Wilkes becoming a starter:

'No matter what player, there's someone behind him who is looking for that opportunity, who has been working extremely hard for it.'

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I'm sure Marrone said some really nice things to Wilkes in person. Right? I mean, he had to have. Right?

Interesting Nugget O'Interest: Wilkes was moved from cornerback to free safety in spring 2011. That position switch actually paid dividends for Marrone and the Orange as starter Thomas was first hurt then suspended.

Let Us Get a Good Look At You: I'll include a horribly shot video of Wilkes big hit from the Akron game two years ago (he was a frosh here), but I'll refer you to Dan's GTKNYO from last season for a ton more videos on the kid from Tampa.

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