Syracuse, NY -- When the Syracuse University football team took to the practice field for the first time earlier this week those watching No. 51 run past did a double-take. The jersey was worn last season by rookie nose tackle Eric Crume, who squeezed his 332-pound frame into it somehow. While Crume has dropped 30-plus pounds since then, the guy wearing No. 51 when camp opened was nowhere near 300.
Turns out the jersey now belongs to redshirt freshman defensive end Donnie Simmons, who traded up from No. 41 in the off-season when Crume opted to wear No. 52. Simmons appeared to be so undersized when he arrived a year ago from downstate packing maybe 220 pounds onto his 6-foot-2 frame that many wondered whether he might be moved to linebacker to help provide needed depth there.
Instead he remained at end, working on his technique on the field and his strength off it. Simmons came out of spring ball first on the depth chart at one end ahead of senior Deon Goggins, although the two continue to battle neck-and-neck for the starting job. He reported to camp weighing a more DE-like 243 pounds (Goggins is 275). Defensive line coach Tim Daoust said Simmons2 motor has kept him in the hunt for the starting job.
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3Donnie plays extremely hard at all times,2 Daoust said. 2He is all-out all the time. And that2s what we2re going to do (as a defense). He2s a role model for the kids that way.2
Still, with a speed rusher slated to start at the other end in senior Brandon Sharpe (6-2, 248), can Syracuse afford to start the season with two of them?
3We9ll play to Donnie2s strengths and put him in position to do things he does really well,2 Daoust said. 2He can get on the edge of a defense and run and create problems in the backfield.2
Related topics: Deon Goggins, Donnie Simmons, Syracuse football defense 2012, Syracuse Orange football, Tim Daoust