Davis Coming Into His Own

The Syracuse defense has been inconsistent as a whole this season, but a few players have enjoyed great individual campaigns. The youngest such player is freshman linebacker Dyshawn Davis, who is getting national attention.

Dyshawn Davis has played just six games at the college level, and he is one season removed from starring at Woodbury High School (NJ), but you wouldn't know it if you have seen him play recently. He has been a big play machine for Syracuse, leading the team in both tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (four).

The numbers earned him a spot on Phil Steele's Midseason Report as a second team All-Big-East selection. His big hit and ensuing forced fumble against Rutgers is nominated for Geico Play of the Year, and he is counted on as the team's best blitzer. Still, Davis is focused solely on improving even though he's come a long way.

" Day 1, I wasn't familiar with the linebacker position and I wasn't familiar with the stance or even taking on linemen," Davis said. "But things have connected (now), and I'm giving it 110 percent to try to get better. Doing the little things, like coming in an hour before the meeting to get extra time in."

Keeping up with the coaching staff throughout the week has led to the big plays as well.

"Coach (Dan )Conley and coach (Scott) Shafer does a great job making sure I'm in the right place at the right time to make the play," he added.

And more times than not, that right place has been at or behind the line as a blitzer. Davis says his mentality has improved when his number is called.

"Once I see that crease I just go," Davis said. "No hesitation, I just go. And once I'm free, I look in the backfield and make a play.

At first I wasn't using my hands, now I'm using my hands a lot and getting a step quicker than the lineman."

Even still, Davis knows he has a ways to go to be the linebacker he wants to be. He wants to get bigger and stronger in the offseason, specifically in the lower body. Also, the influence of a former Orange standout helped him realize another area in which he wishes to improve.

"Watching film on Doug Hogue, the way he played so low," Davis said. "He was able to (defeat) cut blocks and get under lineman and he had great acceleration in his legs to have an extra burst for a tackle...that's what I want to do."

Davis and the entire SU defense will face its biggest test of the season on Friday in front of a national audience when No. 11 West Virginia comes to the Carrier Dome.

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