When you label someone a playmaker, the general idea is that said player usually resides on the offensive side of the ball. Think about it: how can you make a play when the ball is not in your hands? However, that’s not always the case. Fans have witnessed examples of defenders imposing their will on the defensive end for some time now. From Aaron Donald to Miami’s very own Calais Campbell, it’s proven that you don’t need the ball in your hands to be considered a playmaker.
On a defense that is stocked with enough talent and playmakers at each level, it should come as no surprise that sophomore defensive end Jonathan Garvin is poised to be a breakout star in the league. After impressing as a freshman in 2017, there is reasonable expectation that Garvin will be able to evolve his game starting this year.
Before we look at the what’s in store for the Lake Worth Community High School Alum, we take a look back at his debut year as a ’Cane. Freshman DE Greg Rousseau is receiving the same praise Garvin enjoyed for his production in spring camp. With other names getting more publicity from Miami’s Swag ‘17 recruiting class, Garvin shined in his initial debut with the team. That good first impression parlayed itself into the regular season. Playing in all 13 games for Miami, Garvin received some snaps on defense in the early portion of the season as well as making plenty of noise on special teams. Working as a rotational player along the defensive line, the 6’4”, 245 pounder worked behind Joe Jackson and Trent Harris for most of the season. Not a bad combination to sit and learn from.
However, after Jackson was ruled out for the remainder of the season due to injury, Garvin climbed up the depth chart, receiving a bump in his snap count in the process. With a calm demeanor that is usually attributed to a player with double or triple his experience at the college level, Garvin assumed his new role, thriving with the large amount of responsibility. With the 2017 season all in the books, Garvin’s stat line shows off just how impressive his feats were in a single season. With nine tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles, you can see why both defensive line coach Jess Simpson and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz rave about Garvin’s progress.
How did Garvin find success last season?
Well, like most South Florida prospects, he’s blessed with speed. From the snap to his get off, Garvin does an excellent job of turning the corner on offensive tackles. Able to get a step ahead of a kick-stepping tackle, Garvin rounds the corner and is quick enough to close the gap between himself and the quarterback once in the backfield. Another impressive aspect of his game is how Garvin is able to use his hands to create seperation from blockers. Employing a pin-rip-swim to free himself, Garvin differentiates himself from speed rushers in that aspect. Miami fans have witnessed Garvin extend his long arms to get a hand on the football, whether on defense or special teams, making him truly a defender who puts all his tools to good use.
Taking the next step for Garvin is easy in theory, but more difficult in implementation. By rounding the corner, or playing with more leverage coming out of his stance, Garvin should easily improve on all his numbers—of course, more playing time will also help. Garvin could even have a chance to give Joe Jackson a run for the team lead in sacks and tackles for loss in 2018. All that said, Garvin had a good season in spite of his flaws, so who are we to say that he needs to tweak his game?
This is the season where Garvin should prove himself to be one of the best defenders for the ’Canes. Holding up at the point of attack, earning more defensive snaps and playing with the same ferocity that he played with on special teams a season ago, there is no reason why Garvin should be excluded from an All-ACC team come season’s end.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!