Today we look at the Linebacker position, as we dissect the committed recruits, and see what we're looking at moving forward.
Dyshawn Davis, True Senior
Cameron Lynch, True Senior
Luke Arciniega, True Senior
Josh Kirkland, True Senior
Oliver Vigille, Redshirt Junior
Marqez Hodge, True Sophomore
Alryk Perry, Redshirt Freshman
Jonathan Thomas, True Freshman
Colton Moskal, True Freshman
Parris Bennett, True Freshman
Zaire Franklin, True Freshman
Shyheim "Shy" Cullen, Lowell HS, MA (@ShyCullen24) - Cullen is an athletic freak from Massachusetts that's built like a college senior as a high school senior. While his offer list only includes Syracuse, teams like Miami and BC were unwilling to take a chance with his grades, but the Orange staff decided Shy was worth it.
It's really difficult to not be impressed with Shy's tape. His aggression and blitzing is a perfect fit for the Syracuse system, as he is lightning quick to the ball, sometimes through the line before the ball gets to the Quarterback. When he gets to the ball carrier, he punishes them. But he does this all in control, which makes it even more impressive. He also wraps up very well and drives through the ball carrier which is what make his hits so violent. I'm excited to see what Cullen can do with a college S&C program.
Offers - Syracuse
Troy Henderson, St. Edward HS, OH (@_Troy3)
Henderson committed to the Orange over Nebraska and Rutgers. He has family ties to the legendary Ernie Davis, as his grandfather was so close with Ernie that Troy called him his Uncle. He's also from a high school that it would do the Orange good to build a pipeline to, as St. Edward puts a ton of talent into D1 football.
You need a Hudl or Scout account to watch his highlights so unfortunately I can't link you anything here, but if you have one check them out.
Henderson is a read and react linebacker that is quite gifted with his coverage skills. He always seems to be in the right position to make a play. He brings a unique skill set to the team, as it's rare to see a linebacker coming out of high school play this way. Troy is almost like a safety in the way he plays the game and it's great to see that he rarely misses tackles out in space.
Offers - Syracuse, Nebraska, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Toledo, Kent State, Akron, Bowling Green, Ohio, Western Michigan
Doyle Grimes, Champagnat Catholic HS, FL (@Mealticket__)
Grimes was one of the more recent commits, and was a bit of a surprise as his commitment came out of nowhere. He plays for the same school as CB commitment Gerald Robinson (although they haven't played together yet as Grimes is transferring to Hialeah). He'll also be a January enrollee.
Grimes fits the perfect stereotype for a Syracuse linebacker in Chuck Bullough's defensive system. He's got the speed to go sideline to sideline with ease, can read and react to what's in front of him, and he rushes the passer very well. He also wraps up well to deliver that pop to the ball carrier with his shoulder. He has excellent technique all around, which is always impressive for a high school rising senior.
Offers - Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marshall, Florida Atlantic
Syracuse looks like it could take one more Linebacker if the right player wants to come here. Anthony McKee (@_xHeSuperSoLo) and Jordan Fox (@J_Fox15) are those players, but I believe that MSU will be the landing spot for McKee and Stanford most likely the landing spot for Fox. However, there's a chance that Fox doesn't meet Stanford's higher academic standards, like Jarrod West and former Orange Safety Shutang Mungwa. If Bobby "Boom" Acosta lands Fox over Stanford, Miami, and Virginia, he should be given the key to New Jersey.
Syracuse has really shied away from big, bulky linebackers since Scott Shafer took over as DC back in 2008, and this is still the case under Chuck Bullough. The Orange wants linebackers that can play in space and go sideline to sideline, especially in the spread heavy ACC. It's important as well that these linebackers have some coverage skill as Bullough would rather have an LB covering a WR than playing a dime formation at times. We've seen Cam Lynch do this job over the last few years.
Another reason for this switch is that most of the players that have the size as well as the speed necessary to go sideline to sideline are 4 and 5 star prospects going to the factories, so the Orange have searched for the guys that might be a little undersized or under-recruited and made it work. However, a name to keep an eye on over the next 4 years is Jonathan Thomas. The true freshman has SEC size and with a college S&C program could be an All-ACC player. If not for his grades, he probably would have had his choice of offers. (Can you tell I'm excited about this kid?)
Linebacker is still a very unbalanced position on the Syracuse roster, as we have four graduating seniors this year and four true freshman. We'll have three (maybe four) true freshman next year as well. It's anyone's guess how many LBs we target in 2016. I could also see one of our committed Safeties end up moving to OLB as well, such as Daiquan Kelly or Marquise Blair. This will be one of the most interesting positions to watch for the Orange this season and moving forward.