Spruill Taking on Leadership Role

Marquis Spruill is poised for a big senior season as he looks to take on more of a leadership role. He spoke about that, the talented young players, differences with the new staff, and more inside.

Marquis Spruill is entering his final season at Syracuse. As he continues to work hard during the spring, he believes the linebacker group is as talented as it's been during his career.

"As a group, I think we're in a good spot right now," Spruill said. "We're trying to get used to the defense a lot more. A lot has changed and it's kind of hard at first because they throw a lot at you. We're definitely in the swing of things now.

"Practices are more intense (this year). The scheme of the defense, we're doing a lot more. We've got a lot of good stuff going. I can't say too much about it. But it's going to be good."

Spruill has made yet another positional move. As a freshman, he played outside. The following season he was moved back to the middle before returning to the outside as a junior. Now, the senior linebacker is back to the middle, and that's just fine with him.

"I'm in the middle full time until they need me elsewhere," Spruill explained. "I love it. That's what I've played my whole life. My first time playing outside was my freshman year when I got here. I'm used to being in the middle and I love it."

One of the players that has grown over the last couple of seasons is Cam Lynch. He is poised to have a breakout year, and Spruill says he can see the growth and development in the junior linebacker.

"I think so," Spruill said of Lynch. "Last year he got a lot of reps and got in there a bunch. Now he's trying to step up more. He's more vocal now. He's out there making calls and making checks. He's talking a lot more and talking up the defense. So I think he's going to be real good."

As a senior, Spruill is taking on more of a leadership role on the defense. Shamarko Thomas and others had filled that role in the past, and Marquis is ready to step up.

"Coach Shafe (Scott Shafer) is a great coach," Spruill claimed. "He teaches us to be good people not just good players, on and off the field. I catch myself, when someone is struggling or doing something they're not supposed to, to think about what Coach Shafe said. I help them up the best I can.

"Yeah definitely (I've tried to be more of a leader). It's the last time I'll be playing in the Dome. There's a lot of players that, I guess you could say, look up to me. I can give them guidance since I've been here and played the longest."

Two newcomers to Spruill's group are Josh Kirkland and Luke Arciniega. Despite some early struggles, Spruill is confident in their abilities.

"They mess up like everybody else," Spruill admitted. "But they're great. Kirkland, he's a playmaker. If he messes up, he goes 110% and somehow makes a play. I don't know how he does it.

"Luke, he's a big tough kid. Well, not a kid he's older than me. He's a strong dude, he's physical and he hustles. He works hard in the meeting room. He takes notes and studies the playbook. They're going to be good."

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