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Syracuse football position preview: linebackers

Another group counting on young players to emerge

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

As we approach the start of camp for the Syracuse Orange football team, it’s time to dig in and look at the position groups. Next up: linebackers.

The Orange will miss Mikel Jones’ leadership in the middle of the defense, but Marlowe Wax should be ready to assume that role. Wax had 91 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season. He’s poised to build on those numbers as he slides inside to take over the MLB spot.

Stefon Thompson’s return might impact the defensive line more as he’s often sliding down to rush the passer. In his absence last season, Derek McDonald stepped into the starting line-up. He along with Anwar Sparrow, Leon Lowery and Kadin Bailey were part of the regular rotation and this fall they will be pushing for the third linebacker spot.

Each of these players had bright spots in 2022, but as we discussed with the defensive line, failure to stop the run was a major issue for the Orange. After another year in the weight room, these young players should be better prepared to hold up against opposing blockers.

No matter who wins the starting job, this group along with Austin Roon should take the bulk of the snaps. Mekhi Mason and David Omopariola are players to watch during camp. Transfer Khalib Gilmore could become an impact player on special teams coverage while Josiah Jeffery and Zyian Moultrie-Goddard are most likely at least a year away from being expected contributors