Learning the ropes

Upperclassmen Dyshawn Davis and Jarrod West are impressed with the young crop of talent that has emerged for Syracuse so far this season. The two dish on Brisly Estime, Isaiah Johnson and Marqez Hodge, advice that they have given them and more inside.

Throughout the season, fans and media alike have been subjected to flashes of freshmen brilliance on the football field for Syracuse. Players like Brisly Estime, Isaiah Johnson and Marqez Hodge have dazzled early on and have gained the trust of the coaching staff.

For linebacker Dyshawn Davis, underclassmen getting significant time was almost a thing of a past.

"It just goes to show you how far the program has come along," Davis said. "Throughout the years -- maybe before -- you didn't see too many true freshmen play, but now, you're starting to see it."

Davis himself was one of 10 true freshmen to play in 2011. In eight games this season, the junior has 28 total tackles and has been a factor on defense, most notably against Maryland when he had a key blitz sack on quarterback C.J. Brown to set the tempo of the game early. It's that reason in particular that Davis can sympathize to what the freshmen are going through at the moment.

"I try and tell the guys to not get caught up in all the hype and that it's just like any other football game -- like high school -- but (with) bigger, stronger people. They are here for a reason."

Freshman defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson and linebacker Marqez Hodge are just a few that have stood out early.

Alongside freshman wide receiver Estime, Johnson and Hodge had one of their best games in a 13-0 win over Wake Forest. In an instance, Johnson helped shift the momentum in the Carrier Dome with a single reception after he batted down a Tanner Price pass in the air. Hodge, meanwhile, has come on strong with his ability to register the defensive packages and schemes.

Davis says that he tries to encourage the freshmen daily when it comes to the everyday tasks of being a collegiate football player. Time in the film room, getting their technique down, brushing up on the fundamentals and sharpening their overall football I.Q. is key at the next level of play.

"When the next (crop) of younger guys come up," Davis said, "they will be able to pick them up and show them how we do things around here and how we hold each other accountable. It just shows you how the program has come along and where the program is going in the future."

As for the spitfire Estime, he notched his first collegiate touchdown against the Deamon Deacons. The receiver had nine catches on that afternoon for 62 yards and showed his speed early and often out on the field for the Orange.

For junior Jarrod West, Estime has the potential to be something special and has come a long ways since camp back in August. The upperclassmen notes, aside from a few miscues early, Estime has gradually put "more and more plays" in his repertoire and has really turned into a "great player."

"He's definitely helping us out a lot," West said. "We have a talented (receiving) group. When everyone plays as one and knows what we are doing, we do a great job."

Orange head coach Scott Shafer echoes West's sentiments.

"A lot has been asked about Brisly," Shafer said. "I really thought in my heart that once he got the basics, the level one fundamentals down, that he would flourish at this level.

"Getting to that level one, you have to build the foundation first. It takes time to dig that hole before you start building a house. Once Brisly got to that point, we see what he can do."

West is always there, too, for advice, even in the heat of the battle. West says that sometimes he can hear the underclassmen whispering his name asking where they are supposed to go.

A young buck or a seasoned veteran, it doesn't matter as Syracuse will collectively have to play as whole against their next opponent in No. 2 Florida State on the road. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

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