Want proof? He’s now focusing on sacks rather than interceptions.
“Just moving to the linebacker, it’s a whole different perspective,” Soroh said. “It’s still about the ball for me. I don’t know, I’m just more hungry for the sacks this year because of our scheme and what we do.”
A redshirt senior, the 6-foot2, 220-pound Soroh began his move from safety to linebacker last season. By the start of spring Soroh has become a fulltime linebacker.
It’s a move that people around the program had discussed for a while.
“When I first came here they were always talking about how big I was,” Soroh said. “Like, well he’s too big to be a safety. He’s going to end up moving to linebacker.”
Always considered a big hitter in the secondary, Soroh notched 99 tackles during his first three years with the Owls, with 48 coming last season when he started more than half the Owls’ games at safety. Soroh has three interceptions in his college career but it still pursuing his first sack.
Playing on the back line of the defense afforded Soroh an extra step or two to diagnose plays. Moving closer to the line of scrimmage hasn’t slowed Soroh down.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, getting closer to the box,” senior linebacker and Conference USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year Azeez Al-Shaair said. “Now you have to use our hands more. You’ve got to have better footwork so you can take on blocks. He’s done a really, really, really good job of making that transition.”
As a linebacker, Soroh fits well into new defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro’s attacking style of defense.
Leaner than many linebackers, Soroh’s speed and ability to master the playbook allows Pecoraro to place Soroh at all three linebacker spots. He saw some time working alongside Al-Shaair with the first team defense during the fall, but will likely begin Saturday’s season-opener at No. 7 Oklahoma second on the depth chart behind returning starter Rashad Smith at weak side linebacker. Smith tied defensive end Hunter Snyder for FAU’s sack title last season with six.
Soroh may be most effective this season on third downs, but not for the obvious reasons. Where players who move from the secondary to linebacker are usually more comfortable in pass coverage – and Soroh can cover backs or tight ends – he’s embraced the idea of using his speed to harass quarterbacks in the backfield.
“I think his intelligence is really off the charts to be honest with you,” Pecoraro said. “You could plug him all over the place.”
Pecoraro even said, perhaps only half jokingly, that the Owls could even employ Soroh as a stand-up defensive end in pass rushing situations.
That’s the kind of talk Soroh now likes to hear.
During the offseason Soroh picked the brains of starting defensive end Leighton McCarthy (who, at 6-foot-3, and 225 pounds, isn’t much bigger than Soroh) and backup defensive end Tim Bonner about pass rushing techniques from the end of the line.
“Me having that speed to come off the edge and the rush moves that I have, I think I have a great advantage,” Soroh said.
And that advantage, of course, should translate into sacks.
“It’s crazy,” Al-Shaair said. “He loves pass rush. He’s really taken that on to a whole new level.”