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Gregory Rousseau: Miami’s Newest Star

Miami’s talented defensive end blossoming into the star we all expected

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Miami Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes have always been known to develop stellar defensive ends, such as Calais Campbell, Jerome McDougle, and more recently with Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin. Well, UM has found its next great DE, Gregory Rousseau.

Rousseau made his first career start against Virginia this past weekend, and the redshirt freshman did not disappoint. #15 tallied seven tackles, two TFLs, one sack and a forced fumble. In fact, if you were to take away just one thing from that game, it would be Rousseau’s performance, he was that dominant.

In particular, he made two game-changing plays that helped the Canes escape with a 17-9 win. The first one came on the first play of the second quarter, with Miami leading 7-0, and Virginia going for it on 4th and 1 already in UM’s territory. Rousseau read the play perfectly and BOLTED into the backfield to drop the running back for the 4th down stop.

Then the second play was in the fourth quarter, with Miami leading now only 10-6, and UVA in Canes territory and threatening. On a 3rd and 10, Rousseau blasted quarterback Bryce Perkins for the sack, also forcing a fumble, forcing the Cavaliers to kick a field goal.

After Friday’s game, Rousseau’s season stat line reads: 16 tackles, 5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. #15 leads the Canes in both sacks and tackles for loss. He also ranks 4th in the ACC for sacks, and 7th for TFLs.

While ESPN announcers were amazed by Rousseau’s performance, Miami fans and even Manny Diaz weren’t surprised by it at all.

A member of the 2018 recruiting class, the 6-6 athletic freak out of Champagnat Catholic in Hialeah was expected to contribute plenty his first year, dominating in his first spring in Coral Gables.

Sadly, Rousseau suffered a season ending ankle injury in just the second game last year against Savannah State. Though, he battled back and dominated throughout this past offseason, earning praise from everyone, including Calais Campbell himself, who stopped by practice in the spring.

Coming into 2019, Rousseau was behind fifth-year Scott Patchan, making up an impressive rotation at defensive end, along with Jonathan Garvin and Trevon Hill. Even though his snap count wasn’t that high through the first five games, Rousseau’s presence was felt every single week, starting against the Gators, where he pulled down Feleipe Franks for his first career sack.

In those five games, Rousseau was used primarily as a third-down rusher, and even with minimal snaps, Greg continued to find the quarterback and get in the backfield constantly. Like here against North Carolina in Miami’s second game, Rousseau was lined up in the interior and dropped Sam Howell.

Versus Central Michigan, Rousseau not only recorded a sack, but he forced and recovered a fumble on the same play, as he was able to put on the Turnover Chain for the first time.

As Rousseau’s play was elevating week after week, the question as to why he wasn’t starting became more and more frequent. Even though Patchan was playing well, the difference between the two was obviously in favor of Rousseau.

Finally, with Manny Diaz announcing he’d have more of a role with the defense this past week, it was announced on Friday, day of the Virginia game, that Rousseau would be making his first career start, with Garvin on the other end.

Because Rousseau got off to such a hot start in the UVA game, the Cavaliers started to double team him often. That allowed for the other defensive lineman for Miami to run free and pressure Bryce Perkins all night long, sacking Virginia’s dual-threat quarterback five times. Perfect example was on the Cavaliers final drive, so much attention was shown to Rousseau to block him, that Trajan Bandy and Trevon Hill get to Perkins untouched for the sack.

It seems that coach Diaz made the right decision to start Rousseau, and because he’s only a redshirt freshman, his future and upside can’t be any brighter right now.