After a total failure of a season, Scott Shafer is losing one his few bright spots on the defensive side of the ball. Durell Eskridge, a junior, has officially declared for the NFL Draft. He was named to the All-ACC Third Team after his sophomore season.
In his junior season, Eskridge made a secondary-leading 68 tackles and a pick-six against Notre Dame. He will finish his Orange career ranked 15th in tackles by a defensive back after starting every game this year.
Regarding Eskridge’s early exit, Shafer said, “”Durell has been a pleasure to coach and to have in our program. We, his Syracuse family, are excited for Durell and wish him continued success in this next step in his life.”
Eskridge had the chance to be “the guy” next season for the SU defense, but after the group’s poor showing, it isn’t a surprise that Eskridge chose to leave, and there really was no reason for him to stay. Of the 11 defensive starters from 2014, the Orange will have to replace eight. In the secondary specifically, the Orange will also lose corner back Brandon Reddish, the team leader in interceptions, Darius Kelly, and Ritchy Desir. Other players could decide to leave early, but that doesn’t make much sense for anybody but Eskridge.
Over the summer, Eskridge was ranked on Mel Kiper’s draft board as the fifth-best underclassmen safety. Since then, he has shown up on various other pre-draft rankings and figures to be picked in the middle rounds of next year’s draft.
In 2015, the Orange will return Julian Whigham at corner, and will most likely start Antwan Cordy opposite him. At safety, the Orange will have to find a replacement for both Kelly and Desir on the strong side, and may start Chauncey Scissum at free safety, who backed up Eskridge this year. The Orange will also be receiving a new group of commitments, headlined by safety Marquise Blair out of Ohio. Chris Fredrick is another safety commitment out of Georgia. The coaching staff may also turn to 2014 freshman Rodney Williams, who only played two games this season because of a lower-body injury.
It’s hard to imagine a season going worse than this year’s, but with the way things are shaping up on the defensive side of the ball, the offense is going to have to score points to compete in games. The Orange simply will not have the defensive cushion to fall back on heading into a very important season.
Posted: Jason Weingold