As the 2021 football season approaches, Syracuse is looking to solidify who will be leading the box during camp. The linebacker position is very young; However it is loaded with potential.
Mikel Jones, 6’1, 218lbs, out of IMG Academy is heading into his junior season and is on Butkus Award Watch List. Jones started all eleven games for the Orange in 2020 and led the team with 69 tackles. His ball hawking abilities totaled 4 interceptions which was tops among all linebackers across the country. Jones is a play making machine and the Orange will be relying heavily on his performance this year.
Returning is Marlowe Wax, who made an immediate impact last season. As a true freshman, Wax played in all eleven games at linebacker and started in one. Wax totaled 33 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks in his freshman campaign. Although Wax is a very physical player, his hands and block shedding ability display a “wax on and wax off” science. With such an immediate impact, the Orange is hoping Wax will take a step forward in his development this season.
Stefon Thompson, the standout linebacker, was the first freshman at Syracuse to start the season opener in ten years. Thompson appeared in ten games last year, starting in seven of them. In his freshman year, Thompson recorded 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and one forced fumble, which earned him recognition as a freshman All-American. The twitchy linebacker has a chance to establish himself as one of the ACC’s top linebackers.
Geoff Cantin-Arku is entering his junior year with the Orange. Arku has 64 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and a touchdown in his career. Although Arku has a nose for the ball, his ability to read lineman pre snap and post snap allow him to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The Orange will need Arku to play an integral role this season.
Young, talented linebackers such as Steve Linton, Leon Lowery, and Anwar Sparrow provide quality depth and will look to carve out a role this season as well. The linebacker group is one of the deepest on the Orange roster.