The youth movement at Syracuse University has been well-documented, especially when Doug Marrone speaks about his football team. Of the 55 first or second-year players on the roster, only a few had standout campaigns. Here's our take for Rookie of the Year.
Davis made his presence known very early into the season on the defensive side of the ball. He notched 10 ½ tackles for loss in 2011 to go along with four sacks. Davis was the team's best blitzer, and he made the big hit of the year against Rutgers' Jawan Jamison. The blitz led to a forced fumble, and subsequent touchdown return of 66 yards by SU cornerback Rishard Anderson.
Fisher was in a rotation at punter initially, but he snagged the job for the majority of the season and averaged about 40 yards per kick. His hang-time was better than most as well, allowing the punt-coverage unit to be solid all season despite some big gainers because of missed tackles.
Kobena had his moments as a potent kick returner and occasional offensive weapon, though he never seemed to take the next step. Still, he amassed 1,027 kick return yards in 2011 – good for second all-time in school history and third in Big East history for one season.
Winner: Dyshawn Davis
Fisher was solid once he took hold of the punting job and Kobena flashed his speed at times, but Davis was hands-down the best freshman wearing orange. He blitzed with efficiency and rarely missed tackles on the way to playing behind the line of scrimmage on about a quarter of his overall tackles. The future looks bright for the young linebackers on a defense in need of play-makers going forward.