Most had assumed Marquis Spruill would return as the starting middle linebacker entering the 2012 season. However, the Syracuse coaching staff had other plans. Spruill was moved to the outside, and Siriki Diabate stepped into the starting position. CuseNation.com spoke with Diabate about his new role.
"That's what it seems like right now but nothing's for sure," he said. "You just have to keep coming out here and getting after it every day."
"I'm feeling great," Diabate continued. "Nothing has changed since the spring. It's just taking the coaching points and getting after it every single day."
Syracuse has a bunch of talented linebackers competing for playing time. Dyshawn Davis has had maybe the best camp out of anyone. Spruill is extremely talented with a lot of experience. Dan Vaughan is a smart senior leader. Cam Lynch is an up and coming player with a very high ceiling. That competition makes everyone better.
"That makes it exciting," Diabate explained. "That's what we all play football for. We are all competitive and we come out here every single day and we have to give our best because the guy behind you is ready to take you out anytime. So you have no room for mistakes. We love the competition."
Despite competing with each other, Diabate says the linebackers are all good friends off the field.
"We're a tight group," he stated. "We're all good friends. Although the competition part is there, we just go after it. Outside of the field, we're good friends. Nothing really happens off the field. Just on the field we give it all we got. Outside of that we're best friends.
"Every time one of us is out there, we want them to do the best every single time."
Coming out of that competition as a starter is something Diabate has dreamed about.
"It would be the best feeling I've ever felt in my life so far," he said with a joyful grin. "I just want to give it all I've got. I couldn't match it with anything else right now. It's a dream come true. Prayers answered."
Despite being the starter, Diabate knows he needs to continue to improve.
"I still got a lot of improvement to do," he declared. "But I've been going after it every single day and taking the coaching from my coach and just trying to get better. Right now, I'm giving it all I have but I know there's still room for improvement."