We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
A couple weeks ago, SU linebacker Dyshawn Davis made some waves when he claimed the Orange would “shock the world” once they joined the ACC. Considering Syracuse is 12 years removed from their most recent double-digit win total, it’s tough for even the most devoted fans of the team to completely buy in. But maybe that’s what it’ll take for SU to succeed in their new home. We’ll see soon enough if it has the intended effect.
Media commentary aside, Davis is also a standout player on the field, as indicated by his ranking on this list. For a surprisingly strong Syracuse linebacker corps, Davis was a standout in 2012, making impacts in both the running and passing games — a versatility the team will sorely need against the ACC’s faster offensive playmakers. In total, he racked up 71 tackles last year, along with 14.5 tackles for loss (a strong sign of success for the linebacker), plus two forced fumbles, one touchdown and one interception. He’s a jack-of-all-trades with dynamic upside, and so long as he’s back 100-percent from offseason shoulder surgery (he should be, though he did miss spring practice because of it), there’s little reason to expect any less production out of him come this fall.
Based on his history, Davis may be one of the ACC’s most athletic linebackers when he takes the field in late August. A former wide receiver, he runs a 4.56 40-yard dash and sacrifices every bit of his 6’2″ and 212-pound frame to make the necessary stops. It’s also one of the main reasons he hurt his shoulder last season. Despite all the speed and athletic ability, he’s a bit lighter than your average linebacker, which is the main knock you could even consider when looking at his overall effort. Again: 14.5 tackles-for-loss. That’s among the nation’s 25 best figures put up by linebackers last year, and among the top 15 for returning linebackers in the country.
This year, there is very little adjustment necessary for Davis and the rest of the Syracuse defense. Former coordinator Scott Shafer is now the head coach, and in his place is former college and pro linebacker Chuck Bullough. For someone like Davis, it’s tough to find a better coach to set him up for success than someone with their own experience at the position. With more speedy ACC players (compared to the Big East), he’ll have his hands full manning the outside linebacker spot in SU’s 4-3. But so long as he can pick his spots correctly and get some help from the rebuilt defensive line, he should be expected to succeed yet again — whether he “shocks the world” or not.