Josh Kirkland continues to stand out during the practices open to the media. He makes plays and is all over the field. He attributes that to becoming more comfortable with the defense and doing what he loves within that knowledge.
"I'm getting more of a grasp of the defense," Kirkland declared. "It's all new to me and I definitely love coming off the edge and blitzing. That's kind of my thing. I've got a knack for that."
Observers of practice are not the only ones who have noticed Kirkland's playmaking abilities. The coaching staff has noticed as well as Kirkland is now working with the first team defense.
"I'm definitely on the ones now," Kirkland admitted. "I was one the twos but I moved up a few practices ago. I'm definitely with the starters. It's a lot of hard work that I've put in and just as the year goes on I'm going to be able to understand the defense a lot better. I'm able to hold my position down a lot better."
Head Coach Scott Shafer had a lot of positive things to say about Kirkland as well. He believes the future is bright for the junior college transfer.
"Josh is doing a good job," Shafer said after practice. "He makes a lot of plays. Sometimes he makes plays where he's not supposed to be. But again, he plays fast and hard. Sometimes he'll step the wrong way and still go make a play. He's one of those kids that when he was at Butler Junior College, we had a list of kids to look at. His name was kind of at the bottom of that list.
"I went out there and was watching the videotape and I kept asking, ‘who's this kid that just made that play? Who's this kid?' And they said that's the Kirkland kid. I really got fired up about the kid because he plays the game with unbelievable emotions. He loves to play football. Now we've just got to get him coached up, teach him how to play the game within the framework of the defense and I think we'll have a good linebacker."
Part of the reason Kirkland is able to learn the defense so quickly is the help of other players. Specifically, other linebackers have helped him so that they can all be on the same page.
"Spruill is one of the guys," Kirkland explained. "Spruill, he always has his head in the right spot. He's a good guy. My roommate is Luke Arciniega so we hang out a lot and kind of have each other's backs.
"Cameron Lynch, Cam Lynch as well. He's kind of helped me understand the defense."
The intensity of practice was something that was not as big of an adjustment for Kirkland as some may have anticipated. He says his experience at the junior college level has been strong preparation for what he's experiencing now.
"It's fast tempo but that's how I like it," Kirkland said. "The school I was at before was very fast tempo. When we went to practice we did a lot of things. That's how I like it and that's how these guys are having their practices so it's a good transition."
Kirkland will have a difficult time moving past Dyshawn Davis on the depth chart once Davis returns healthy. However, the fact that Kirkland has moved up the ranks so quickly shows that Syracuse has someone who will have to get on the field once the season starts.