Defense & Special Teams — 2013 Syracuse football preview

This is the second in a two part series previewing the 2013 Syracuse football team. Check out Part I, which highlights the offense.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Jay Bromley has been away from the spotlight for most of his football career.

As a senior at Flushing High school in Queens, Jay Bromley was a New York Post All-City First Team and was an all-borough selection. In his career, he recorded 40 sacks and 300 tackles.

Hardly any major college programs noticed.

“I didn’t get recruited by any schools,” Bromley said. “Coming out of New York City, small high school, not (known for) football, Syracuse gave my only offer out of high school.”

Heading into the 2013 season, Bromley is about to get a lot more attention.

His fellow starting linemen from last season—Deon Goggins and Brandon Sharpe—have graduated, leaving Bromley as the most tenured member of the unit.

Last season, he finished with 39 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, all while nursing a lower body injury. Now fully healthy, Bromley is looking to build on that.

The coaches have noticed.

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer opted to take Bromley as the team’s defensive representative with him to ACC kickoff, and Bromley has taken on a leadership role with the team.

“If I can come out of nothing, come out of the blue and be here, as a leader of my program, anybody can do it,” Bromley said. “Not just a five star, not just a four star.”

A trio of juniors—Micah Robinson, Eric Crume and Robert Welsh—will join Bromley as starters on the defensive line. Crume played in 12 games last year and had 15 tackles.

» Related: Breaking down the 2013 season with ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson

jay_bromley

Bromley leads the SU defense

SECONDARY

The secondary is one of the most experienced units on the team, having only lost one starter from last year.

Then again, that starter was Shamarko Thomas, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Durell Eskridge will likely take Thomas’ strong safety spot. As a redshirt freshman, he appeared in all 13 games and finished with 26 tackles.

Seniors Ri’Shard Anderson and Keon Lyn will once again start at cornerback, though junior Brandon Reddish started three games last year and should figure into the mix.

Another senior, Jeremi Wilkes, fills out the secondary at free safety. He finished fifth on the team in tackles last year with 64, including 47 solo stops.

» More SU football: Previewing SU vs. Pittsburgh

LINEBACKERS

The Orange lost their starting middle linebacker and co-captain, Siriki Diabate. He will likely be replaced by Marquis Spruill, who spent most of last season at outside linebacker.

Spruill had another solid year in 2012, ranking 10th in the Big East in tackles for loss at 0.75 per game after an All-Big East Second team campaign in the 2011 season.

“The leadership role is great with Spruill leading the pack,” said linebacker Josh Kirkland.

Dyshawn Davis will be back as a starting outside linebacker. He emerged as a star last year, notching 69 tackles, 14 of them for a loss. Junior Cameron Lynch figures to be the third starter, though senior Lewellyn Coker should also see plenty of playing time.

Kirkland, one of the stars of the spring game, is also an intriguing option. He is a JUCO transfer from Butler Community College who helped his team to the 2012 NJCCA National Championship game.

“I really got fired up about the kid because he plays the game with unbelievable emotions,” Shafer said. “Now, we just have to get him coached up, teach him how to play the game within the framework of our defense and I think we’ll have a good linebacker.”

» Related: Meet the 2013 SU football team – Jerome Smith

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ross Krautman will return as the starter at kicker for his senior season despite getting some competition from kickoff specialist Ryan Norton. Krautman had a drop off in his junior season, but still ranks fourth in SU’s all-time list in career field goals (48) and fourth in career extra points (106).

“He’s an experienced guy that’s won some games for us,” Shafer said. “Ross has done a good job here in his career.”

Junior Jonathan Fisher will return as the starting punter. In 2012, he averaged 38.4 yards per kick and also kicked 18 punts inside the 20 yard line.

Check out Part I of the 2013 Syracuse football preview.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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