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Spring shoes to fill: Syracuse

I'm continuing to look at each Big East team's spring remodeling jobs -- specifically, how a team is faring in locating replacements for its biggest departed star. Let's examine Syracuse.

Biggest shoes to fill: Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith

The two senior linebackers were critical to the Orange's success in 2010. Together, they combined for 209 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, three interceptions and four forced fumbles. The athleticism and leadership of Smith and Hogue allowed defensive coordinator Scott Shafer to be ultra-aggressive with his linebackers to great success.

Spring replacements: Dan Vaughan and Dyshawn Davis

The lone returning starter at linebacker, sophomore Marquis Spruill, has been moved to the middle to take over Smith's old spot. Vaughan is a fourth-year junior who brings much-needed experience to the linebacker corps; now he'll be asked to play a much bigger role. He's solid if unspectacular. Davis is an interesting story. He played receiver and safety in high school but was moved to linebacker when he enrolled in January as a true freshman. He doesn't always know where he's going, but he's got the one thing that Shafer really loves: speed.

Summer outlook: Vaughan and Davis seemed to solidify their spots with strong springs. Incoming recruit Cameron Lynch will be given a shot to earn playing time when he arrives this summer, and at a listed 220 pounds he's got more bulk than Vaughan (214) and Davis (206). The coaches hope junior college transfer Siriki Diabate will continue his development and become a contributor as well. The Orange are going to be awfully young and rather small at the linebacker spots. But no one knew much about Smith and Hogue when they were converted there from running back earlier in their careers, and that turned out all right.