As camp gets underway, sophomore strong safety Durell Eskridge is looking to establish himself as not only as a go-to player in the secondary, but looks to prove himself as a leader on the field.
"You become a full-time guy and you have more responsibilities," Eskridge said about becoming more of a leader on the defensive end. "It's a big change, it's a big role, I just want to go out there and play and go out there with my secondary and be the best we can be. Being a safety is kind of like being a quarterback, once you get that confidence, you have that mentality where you have to be great. There are no mess ups."
Last season, Eskridge split time with former safety, Shamarko Thomas, who has since moved onto the NFL and is now playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I have always leaned on Shamarko since I've been here," Eskridge said. "He has always been [Syracuse's leader]. He was that type of person that taught me a lot."
One valuable piece of advice that Eskridge gained while under Thomas' tutelage? Work until you can't feel your hands and feet.
The rangy, 6-foot-3 safety will look to improve upon his 26 tackles from a year ago and lead a secondary that has depth in a trio of seniors, Ri'Shard Anderson, Keon Lyn, Jeremi Wilkes as well as junior, Brandon Reddish.
The Sunshine State native also has high praise for head coach, Scott Shafer, and noted that he has even helped spread the word when it comes to Syracuse football.
"It's a great school up here for education and life after football," Eskridge said. "This is an upcoming program with coach Shafer. He is a great guy, great coach and he is a great mentor. I always tell people that if you want to be the best in life I think [Syracuse] is the route to take."
With Penn State looming, Eskridge and his teammates are chomping at the bit to get out on the field and hit the ground running.
"We have been waiting for this for a long time," he said. "We are very excited and anxious to get out there and play football. We are just going to go out and give our all as a team."
Eskridge eyes leadership role in secondary
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