Syracuse defensive end Brandon Sharpe did not have time to watch the defense play on the field and learn the game from a distance. He learned the game by being thrust into it. With no redshirt season, Sharpe was asked to be a positive factor for the Orange from the moment he became a collegiate sutdent-athlete.
In his freshman season of 2009, Sharpe played in 10 of the team's 12 games, inactive for two games due to injury. Sharpe amounted a sack in four of those ten contests, while also forcing a fumble, answering the Orange staff that he could be of assistance immediately.
The following season, Sharper was involved in all of the 12 regular season contests as well as Syracuse's postseason victory in the first ever New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State. He matched his output from the previous season by getting involved in a sack in four different games as well as forcing a fumble. Sharpe also took a step forward, adding more tackles in his sophomore season than he had amounted in his first collegiate year.
As a junior, his output in sacks went down to one game, but he advanced with his solo tackles, taking down opponents without assistance.
With this season being his last in orange and blue, Sharpe has gotten off to a faster, more productive start than ever before. What once took four games has now been achieved in one outing against conference rival, Pittsburgh. Sharpe recorded four sacks in that game, equaling his entire output in 10 games as a freshman.
Sharpe added two more tackles for a loss to his six sacks to send the Pittsburgh offense backward for a total of 45 yards.
This season, Sharpe has had his best games against Syracuse's most difficult offensive opponent when they faced USC and in a much-needed win when they hosted Pittsburgh. Against USC, Sharpe recorded 1.5 sacks and four total tackles versus a speedy, multi-talented offense led by Trojans' quarterback Matt Barkley. Versus Pittsburgh, Tino Sunseri and the running attack were mismatched with Sharpe, who earned a well-deserved honor for his silencing of running back Ray Graham at times and negating offensive opportunities for the entire Panthers' offense. "He had some opportunities...and he cashed in on 'em," said Syracuse defensive line coach Tim Daoust.
Daoust went one step further, stating that Sharpe has been steadily increasing, even when the final stats do not show it. "Brandon Sharpe has been playing better and better every week, and it's a deal that those don't always show up on the stats sheets," Daoust expressed. "But I can assure you those last two [games], Stony Brook and Minnesota, Brandon was playing better and better football."
The Big East Defensive Player of the Week is off to a faster, more productive start than ever before and his aid could not come at a better time as the Orange offense has continued to struggle to score through the past few games.
"We had the bye week and Brandon showed a great amount of focus and he's always been a hard-worker, so things have kinda fell in place for Brandon," shared Daoust.
As the offense continues to evolve throughout the season, the defense has been its backbone, providing opportunities for the Orange offense and taking opportunities away from their opposing offenses. When you look at what their senior defensive lineman has done so far this season, it is easy to say the Syracuse defense is looking Sharpe.