We continue on in our series looking at the biggest shoes to fill across the Big East.
Up today: Syracuse.
Who's out: Chandler Jones. One of the most important things to know about Jones is this -- last season he missed five games with a knee injury, but he still made the Big East first-team, as selected by the league's head coaches. If that doesn't show how valuable he was to his team, what does? Jones finished the season with 4.5 sacks, 7.5 hurries and two forced fumbles in just seven games, and was essentially the only reliable lineman despite being out for so many games. Jones saw his upside and decided to leave school early for the NFL draft, where he is expected to be a late-first round or second-round selection.
Who's in: Brandon Sharpe or Micah Robinson. Defensive end is one area where depth has to be built, with the graduation of Jones, Mikhail Marinovich and Torrey Ball. This spring certainly provides a test, as Robinson is out with an injury. Sharpe really has a chance to elevate himself to the next level this spring, particularly if he is able to get many more reps than he has in the past. Donnie Simmons also will be in the mix. More help arrives in the summer, in the form of junior college transfer Markus Pierce-Brewster and two true freshmen, including Josh Manley.