The Syracuse Orange have a new coach, Scott Shafer, leading the program into a new conference, the ACC, in 2013 and they have plenty or questions to answer before they kick off next season. One of the biggest questions will be on defense where the Orange must replace some of their key defensive leaders from a season ago and in the secondary in particular. That opens the door for a new start to emerge at safety and Durell Eskridge is ready to burst through it in 2013.
Eskridge has already become a significant part of the defense after appearing in all 13 games during his sophomore season, recording 36 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks. He also broke up three passes, forced a fumble and blocked a kick in 2012, showing a knack for being a disruptive force. The Syracuse coaching staff was looking to him during the spring to build on that ability and take the next step towards becoming a leader on defense and he has responded.
The team will need him to translate his strong spring into results next fall. Syracuse is looking for someone to step up into the role that Shamarko Thomas vacates after leading the team with 85 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, to go along with two interceptions, a sack and three forced fumbles during his senior season. The Orange need someone to act as their playmaker on defense in 2013, and Eskridge appears perfectly suited to step up.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough has a reputation for using physical players in a variety of ways in his system, and Eskridge has shown him he fits that bill this spring. He has good size at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and he has the athleticism to make plays all over the field. In short, he’s exactly the type of safety Bullough likes to utilize.
For Syracuse to make a successful transition to the ACC, they will need their defense to step up its game from 2012. To do that, they need Eskridge to come through in a major way and develop into a leader and playmaker from the safety position. Can Eskridge and the Orange get it done in 2013?