Being the ‘new face’ anywhere is never easy. You have to learn a new routine, adjust to a new environment and prove yourself all over again to a group that serves as the vanguard of this foreign land and new home. For freshman defensive end Greg Rousseau, no name tag is needed; he’s forcing those around him to adjust to him.
At 6’6” and a team website-listed 250 pounds, Rousseau certainly doesn’t look like any freshman that the Canes have enrolled as of late. With length, range and a quick first step, the former Champagnat Catholic High School standout has exceeded any adjustment period, turning the corner into a breakout star along the defensive line.
Since his arrival to campus during spring practices months ago, the name Rousseau has continued to pop up. At first, you’re not too sure what to make of the news. Yeah, four sacks in a scrimmage is great, but that was probably against the second-team offense. Ok, he picked up a couple more sacks in the next scrimmage, maybe that wasn’t a fluke. Next thing you know, both coaches and players are talking about how impressive this young freshman has been throughout the spring session.
In his high school days, Rousseau worked as a receiver, an off-the-ball linebacker, defensive end and a deep safety in some instances. An uber athletic specimen, we know that his length and ranginess will be the topic of conversation for most. His long strides allow him to cover plenty of ground, and he’s just a load to handle when it comes to evading him as a ball carrier.
Rousseau’s addition to a loaded defensive line gives the Hurricanes plenty of depth and versatility to play with in 2018. We know that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz loves to attack gaps with multiple blitzers, along with putting his players in the best position to thrive… meaning it will be all a matter of when, not if, Rousseau has that statement game to cement his arrival to the college football stage.
When you look back at other recent Hurricane defensive ends and how they performed in their freshman season, you’re talking about now-Cleveland Brown Chad Thomas (seven tackles, one tackle for loss) and current Canes Joe Jackson (32 tackles, one touchdown, one fumble return, 11.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles) and Jon Garvin (nine tackles, three TFLs, two sacks and two forced fumbles). It’s possible Rousseau could best some of those numbers this season.
What fascinates us entering the season is how much time Rousseau will gain in the defensive end rotation that will likely have him behind Joe Jackson, Jon Garvin and Demetrius Jackson. Will he be able to hold off Scott Patchan who returns to his natural position after experimenting at TE in 2017? Fellow freshman Patrick Joyner appears to be staying with the defensive end group for the foreseeable future, meaning that even with having a spring practice under his belt, Rousseau is still going to feel pressed to get significant playing time this season, even though his performance since arriving to Coral Gables has exceeded all expectation.
UM grad and writer for The Athletic, Bruce Feldman, appears to have given his stamp of approval of #15, recently naming Rousseau his Impact Recruit for the upcoming season.
There were a lot more hyped D-line recruits than the rangy three-star, but he arrived in time for spring and wowed folks with his burst. The 6-6 Rousseau is up to 245 pounds and reminds defensive coordinator Manny Diaz of another dynamic edge rusher he worked with years ago, Manny Lawson.
Before any great proclamation can be made, there are some games that should be played to further assess the next star edge-rusher at the U. That said, don’t be shocked when a sizeable portion of the Canes familia greets you with a large “I told ya he’s good” with a side of “he’s going to be a freshman All-American by the end of the season to boot.”
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!