Name: Durell Eskridge
Position: Strong Safety
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
High School: Miami Central
2013 Stats: Save for Jay Bromley, Eskridge may have been Syracuse's most effective defensive player. He's was a steady tackler (his 78 was a team high) on a unit that sometimes struggled in that department. His four interceptions also led the team. Eskridge's ability in coverage became very important because of injuries to the secondary -- hi, Keon Lyn -- and overall ineffectiveness. On top of that, he had a forced fumble and a 19 yard reception because...Syracuse football.
2014 Projections: He's on track to be one of SU's best players on either side of the ball. Those high expectations have expanded beyond our little central New York bubble. NFL Draft guru and hair extraordinaire Mel Kiper recently listed Eskrige as the No. 5 safety among underclassmen. For part of last season, Eskridge played through a lingering hand injury so expect even more production out of him this year.
How'd He Get Here: His recruiting pages lists him as a wide receiver, which he played in high school in addition to safety. Then-defensive coordinator Scott Shafer did the recruiting and snagged the speedy star. Eskridge's other offers came from Cincinnati, FIU and Marshall. But he attracted interest from a few other Florida schools, as well.
Money Quote: "We felt like we played faster with no shoes on. Growing up in the projects, you always wanted to play with no shoes on because we played on grass a lot. We didn't have many pairs of shoes. Mom bought one pair for the school year, so you didn't want to play in those."
Links of Wonder: The Post Standard profiled Eskrige's tough childhood in the housing projects in Miami. His mother lived paycheck-to-paycheck and his sister suffers from cerebral palsy. Gosh darn, all these players have such inspirational stories. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Tweets of Wonder:
Grind hard just stay hungry don't let nobody take nothing from you— Durell Eskridge (@Deskridge_d3) June 18, 2014
But, more importantly, is he hungry AND humble?
And after grinding hard, does he proceed to shine later?
I think I know just the person to clarify.
At the point later in which you shine, can can stop grinding or should you continue grinding in order to later shine again?
— Sean Keeley (@NunesMagician) May 18, 2013
Shine bright like a diamond? Or no? @jenny248 I don't speak from experience, but I think you grind just in the morning but shine all day.— Sean Keeley (@NunesMagician) May 18, 2013
That's what I was afraid of. @RachelDeAlto You have to always be grinding to keep shining.— Sean Keeley (@NunesMagician) May 18, 2013
What Does Shafer Think: "He has got a natural ability to go find the football. He does a good job reading the quarterback. He's usually out of his break before the ball comes out, which I don't think we can take credit for. I don't know what it is, but those kids from Florida, they have a knack for reading the quarterback, and he's one of those guys."
Interesting Nugget O'Interest: Durell played at that same high school as Syracuse linebackers Marquez Hodge and Oliver Vigille. In fact, he's one of six current SU players from the Miami area.
Let's Get a Good Look Atcha: