From the outside looking in, sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin looks to be the man in charge of the Syracuse Orange defense on the field. Franklin is a leader. He spoke to the media this past weekend despite being a true sophomore -- both the latter and the former being something rarely seen in college football.
Franklin is articulate and outspoken when speaking to the media -- and he does so in a fashion that portrays him as wise beyond his years. He speaks with candor, "Last year is over. I'm kind of tired of talking about it to be honest with you. " And with the burning of the cleats, it marks a new season beginning against Rhode Island on September 4th.
Yet, in all his transparency, Franklin admits -- humbly so -- that he is not the most important player on the Syracuse defense.
"Ron is the most important person on our defense. Hands down. He's the guy that gets us going. He's a tremendous athlete, tremendous player. I think Ron's going to have a really, really strong season this year."
With Thompson being the only Syracuse player on Phil Steele's Preseason All-ACC team, it should come as no surprise. Ron Thompson is the most intriguing player on the defensive end. He has a great skill set and is great on the edge with a quick first step.
Scott Shafer added to what Franklin had to say, "We're looking forward to Ron having a great season. (He's an) extremely unselfish young man that understood last year, with the issues we had, he had to bounce around a bunch. He was an undersized kid having to play inside some. His natural position is on the edge. I was pleased of his improvement at end this spring. He looks good. He's ready to go. I'm excited. I have great expectations for Ron to have a good season."
As important as the other cogs are in Chuck Bullough's defensive machine, Thompson is the most vital piece that will look to lead the defense on all fronts. The entire team and coaching staff are all-in on Ron Thompson.