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Syracuse Football: Kenneth Ruff Switches Positions From Linebacker to Defensive End

SU's moving quickly this spring to fix the defensive end depth issue.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we found out that tight end Trey Dunkleberger would be switching over to defensive end for the Syracuse Orange. Today, linebacker Kenneth Ruff also announces he'll make the switch to aid the Orange's depth issues at the position.

Ruff, a 3-star linebacker out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was an early enrollee after flipping from Virginia. While he might need to add a little bit of weight this offseason to truly fit the part at defensive end (he's listed around 236 pounds on most sites), the speed he'll bring to the position will certainly be to his advantage. He also gets a leg up on preparing for the change since he's on campus already, adjusting to the scheme and working with the strength and conditioning staff to fit the mold at DE.

With Dunkleberger and Ruff's switches, that makes for seven defensive ends now, with four already on campus. As mentioned in the earlier article on Dunk, Jaquwan Nelson, Kendall Coleman and Josh Black also arrive this fall and will compete for playing time. There's also the chance that Delaware State transfer Gabe Sherrod goes with the Orange as well, and immediately challenges for a starting job.

It may not be the ideal situation moving players to fill out this depth chart, but the players that have shifted at least have the tools to compete at the college level. Dunk and Ruff appear to be great athletes. And if they weren't projected to see playing time due to logjams at their previous positions, this seems like a best-case scenario to get them on the field.


We'll see how the rest of the offseason plays out with regard to the adjustments for these two newly-minted ends, as well as other position moves. Defensive end will surely be a focus for Dino Babers's staff once again too, so who knows if this ends up being a one-year fix or a permanent move. At least in Dunk's case, there's a pretty solid precedent for a Syracuse tight end switching sides of the ball and doing pretty well. If his accomplishments come close to rivaling those of Ron Thompson, this could end up being one of the better decisions of Babers's tenure.