The Syracuse Orange head into the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl with four returning secondary members. Two are cornerbacks and the latter are safeties. All have illustrated different skill sets and come into Yankee Stadium as Syracuse starters for the 2012 installment.
Now a cornerstone of the secondary and the team's best man-coverage defensive back, Lyn was simply a freshman looking to make any impact he could. In 2010, he contributed primarily on special teams en route to four total tackles in nine games played. Currently, Lyn has improved his cover skills to the point that he will likely hold most of the responsibility of trying to slow West Virginia standout receiver Stedman Bailey, a high school teammate of Lyn's at Miramar (Fla.) High along with WVU quarterback Geno Smith.
A preseason shoulder injury cut his 2010 season short before it began, but Anderson has progressed in each of the last two seasons. In 2012, he was often the target for opposing quarterbacks on big plays but he rebounded in the latter half of the season in both pass coverage and run support. Anderson enters postseason play with 41 tackles and an interception to his name.
Known as a dynamic tackler throughout his career, Thomas has been a mainstay on the defense for all four years. As a sophomore in the initial Pinstripe Bowl campaign, Thomas fourth on the team with 67 tackles to go along with two sacks and a trio of bass break-ups. As a senior, he led the entire roster with 84 stops while recording his first two career interceptions in pass coverage. The big-hitter has also contributed three forced fumbles, a recovery and a sack on impact plays.
Wilkes has been playing since he joined the Syracuse Orange. He was one of 15 true freshman to get on the field in 2010. Playing in all 13 contests, he accumulated 19 tackles, the majority of them solo, along with one interception.
He saw time in Syracuse's last Pinstripe Bowl in 2010, attaining one assisted tackle.
Before the 2011 season, Wilkes was switched from cornerback to free safety.
Within that season, he competed in every one of Syracuse's 12 match-ups and was a member of the starting defense on five separate occasions. Wilkes spent some time on special teams, but with multiple injuries to the secondary, he was elevated to a more consistent defensive role.
The move worked in favor of the Orange, as Wilkes gained 41 tackles on the season and an interception to match his from 2010.
In 2012, Wilkes won his starting role outright, becoming the team's top free safety going into the season. Wilkes has played in and started all 12 games leading up to this year's Pinstripe Bowl. He has already passed his tackle total of 41 from last season, matched his interception total once again, and added a forced fumble against Pittsburgh that led to a defensive touchdown by teammate, linebacker Dyshawn Davis.