On Saturday, Syracuse.com’s Stephen Bailey profiled redshirt senior defensive end De’Jon Wilson. The Colorado Buffaloes transfer is one of just a handful of Syracuse Orange defensive linemen with college playing experience. And now, he’s looking to contend for a starting role with SU.
Bailey got in touch with Wilson’s former defensive line coach, Jim Jeffcoat, to get some additional insights on the player’s time at Colorado. It ends up, the only issue was an ill-timed scheme change. Said Jeffcoat:
"He's really not an outside linebacker and he doesn't have the size to be a 3-4 end. It wasn't anything he did."
It’s understandable he’d transfer in that case, though Jeffcoat told Bailey that Wilson was still a positive contributor on the practice team and in the weight room.
That experience — especially when it comes to mentoring the Orange’s bevy of younger players on the line, should be incredibly valuable in 2016. At current, redshirt freshman Jake Pickard owns one of the starting D-end spots, while the other belongs to true frosh Kenneth Ruff. Ruff, who switched over from linebacker, would be Wilson’s primary competition for a starting role. Both Ruff and Wilson recorded sacks during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Syracuse players have recognized his abilities to contribute already. Pickard told Bailey that SU’s teammates you can see where his Pac-12 experience (even if brief) pays dividends already. The Orange coaches see that too, and even if he’s not the “starter” per se, we’ll see plenty of him on the field in some of the team’s larger D-line packages.
You may recall last week’s defensive line notes which alluded to parts of what the new defensive line would look like. The strongside/weakside differentiation and “bigger” line packages would figure to keep Wilson very involved as he’s a larger player than many of the other ends on the roster.
It’s unlikely we find out who’s atop the depth chart until a couple weeks from now. But Wilson certainly seems like one to watch throughout the remainder of Orange training camp.