Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling defensive lineman Jake Pickard.
Syracuse’s new Tampa 2 defensive scheme relies on defensive line pressure to disrupt the offense and force it into making bad plays.
Needless to say, Syracuse will need its defensive ends to be a big part of this.
But DE is one of SU’s biggest question marks heading into the 2016 season. The Orange’s starting ends for the spring scrimmage were redshirt freshman Jake Pickard and true freshman Kenneth Ruff.
Behind them was junior Trey Dunkelberger, who transitioned from tight end to defensive end this spring. Syracuse will also has freshmen Jaquwan Nelson, Joshua Black and Kendall Coleman. Combined, they have played exactly zero snaps at defensive end at the college level.
The Orange was supposed to have graduate transfer Gabe Sherrod as an option, but he recently decommitted from Syracuse. His replacement, De’Jon Wilson from Colorado has not played since the 2014 season.
What does that mean for SU’s inexperienced linemen?
“Equal opportunity. That’s something that coach preaches,” Pickard said during spring practices. “If you’re not going to get it done, I don’t care how long you’ve been here, the best player will play. Whoever makes plays is going to is going to make plays, and whoever makes plays is going to play for us.”
So far, the unit has picked up on the new principles of the scheme quickly.
“Learning whole new playbook is a lot. Learning the reads is a whole other step,” Pickard said. “Everyone has come into their own of learning reads and learning where the back is and determining what set you’re going to have.”
Inside slant: Pickard, despite having redshirted last year, is one of SU’s most experienced defensive ends, and will likely play a big role for that unit in the fall. It still remains to be seen whether he can help create the kind of pressure that SU needs to be successful in its new defensive scheme.
- Birthdate: October 1996
- Hometown: Short Hills, N.J.
- High School: Millburn
- Position: Defensive end
- Class: Redshirt freshman
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 254 lbs
Career highlights: At Millburn, Pickard was named a team captain as a senior, and was a two-time Super Essex All-Conference selection for offense and defense.
Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.