Despite the change at the coaching position, the known names at linebacker continue to have prominence on the depth chart after the Spring.
Spending last season on the outside, Spruill showed that he can stop opponents in motion and be useful on the run. But now his leadership ability will be tested as the "defensive quarterback", which will demand him to have eyes around the defense in addition to focusing on what is in front of him.
Behind Spruill are Luke Arciniega and James Washington, respectively. Arciniega is a junior college transfer who just completed his first Spring practice session with the Orange. He brings a strong physique to the mix at 253 lbs.
Washington was redshirted last season and is yet to have experience in a collegiate game.
At weakside linebacker is Dyshawn Davis. Despite recouping from a prior injury Spring practice, Davis did not have his spot taken away from him, showing a parallel between the old regime and the newly-assembled coaching staff.
Davis is entering his third season with Syracuse having played since the first day. He attained his first two career sacks in his first two games with the Orange, against Wake Forest and Rhode Island, respectively.
He also led the entire defense in tackles for a loss in his freshman season with 10.5.
After playing in all 12 games, starting in 10, in his first season, he returned to play every match in 2012, and was the starter for the entire season. His speed off the edge and hard-hitting ability make him an every down threat too valuable to keep off the field.
Despite Kirkland drawing the spotlight to himself with hits to make sure Syracuse's offense knew he was on the field, Vigille currently holds the slight edge which prior experience with the team coming into this season could have assisted. But with the staff, including head coach Scott Shafer's, constant positive talk on Kirkland's ability to make plays, including hits that ring in your memory, him being on the field in some way makes more sense than the alternative.
Completing the core is strongside linebacker Cameron Lynch. Lynch has been well-deserving of a starting role, showing speed of the edge and an ability to elude opponents' protection. He can also take down players one-on-one in the open field, something that is vital to backup the defensive line.
The options after Lynch are Lewellyn Coker, Zachary McCarrell, and Hernz Laguerre, respectively. Coker has the most experience of all, rotating in while also helping on the offensive end as a fullback.