Last season, the linebackers were the strongest and most indispensible part of the SU defense. This year, the team brings back two of its three starting linebackers in Dyshawn Davis and Cam Lynch, losing just Marquis Spruill to the NFL. SU also has other returning players who played last year, like Josh Kirkland and Luke Arciniega. Because of all the returning players, there is a chance for this unit to once again be very strong. And with some improvement still needed for a strong secondary, it is important for the linebackers to leader the team again.
While Davis and Lynch are expected to play well and likely will, it remains to be seen who the third starting linebacker will be and how well he will play. At different times last year, we saw both Kirkland and Arciniega slide in for injured players. Either of them could fill the void left by Spruill. But a name to look out for could be Marqez Hodge, who played sparingly last season as a true freshman. In a game when most of the SU defense struggled against Georgia Tech, Hodge flourished, tallying 12 tackles and flying around the field. This could be a key in him winning the open job because he showed an ability to get to the ball in a very fast spread-out offense.
A wild card in the scenario could be the growth of incoming freshman Zaire Franklin. Obviously, as a true freshman, it would be very difficult to start week one, but maybe by the end of the year, Franklin could get some valuable time on the field. Another incoming freshman, Colton Moskal, could face a similar situation. Going into the future, fans could look forward to seeing Franklin, Moskal and Hodge flying around the field in the same linebacking corps.
This year, it is important to see the linebackers continue to be the leaders of the defense. Marquis Spruill is gone, and it is up to rising seniors Cam Lynch and Dyshawn Davis to take over, which shouldn’t be hard for either one. They do not need to fill in for Spruill’s production so much as his leadership in the defense as a senior member of the unit.
The linebackers are the core of the defense, literally creating the middle of the formation. This year, the linebackers need to keep up their strong play even if it means the infusion of some new blood.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg