Heading into the 2019 season, something I was really looking forward to watching was how Miami’s second-year players, those who were apart of the 2018 recruiting class, what kind of a jump they would make this season.
That years recruiting class for Miami was ranked 8th in the nation according to 247Sports, and arrived at Coral Gables with lofty expectations. While a small amount had some success as freshman, many of the players have made tremendous leaps now as sophomores or as redshirt freshman.
First and foremost, Miami’s starting quarterback, Jarren Williams, who was a major addition to the 2018 class, as UM snagged the former Kentucky Wildcats commit.
He redshirted his freshman year and nearly transferred at the end of 2018, but was persuaded to stay. With the help of new OC/QB coach Dan Enos, Williams was named the starter prior to the season and has proven why with his play. Most recently, he led Miami to a 27-10 victory over rival Florida State, as Williams threw for a career-high 313 yards and two touchdowns.
Opposite side of Williams on the defensive line, is another redshirt freshman wearing #15, who is turning into a star right before our eyes, Gregory Rousseau. This athletic specimen has been hyped ever since he committed to Miami, and when his first season was cut short after just his second game, that anticipation grew even larger for him in 2019.
I think Greg Rousseau has 7,543 sacks in 4 spring scrimmages.— rOmaN (@Romancane) April 8, 2019
Need this man healthy for the season because if he is........ #TNM
To say he’s lived up to expectations would be the largest understatement of the year. Rousseau currently has 12 sacks on the season, though he’s only been starting for four games. In Miami’s last two games against Pitt and FSU, Rousseau has racked up seven sacks alone. There’s a possibility he challenges Danny Stubbs’ single season Miami record with 17 sacks in one year.
Rousseau blows past the FSU guard like he’s playing freshman level on NCAA Football. His 12th sack on the year pic.twitter.com/FIfkoVcGwA— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) November 6, 2019
Next is tight end Brevin Jordan, who is the first sophomore I'm naming, due to the fact that Jordan has been starting since his first game as a true freshman. The number one ranked tight end in the class of 2018, the Las Vegas product from Bishop Gorman High School has established himself as one of the top TE’s in college football.
Canes up!— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 25, 2019
Jarren Williams finds Brevin Jordan for six. pic.twitter.com/8timO7hYym
For tight ends, he’s currently 7th in the nation for receptions (35) and 5th in receiving yards (495). When Miami feeds him the ball, he’s arguably the best TE in the country, and has NFL scouts already drooling. He has the potential to be one of the best tight ends ever to come out of UM.
Silver lining of 2019: Brevin Jordan pic.twitter.com/dPhVhLcZmp— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) October 10, 2019
Williams, Rousseau and Jordan are the crown jewels of the 2018 class so far, but that doesn’t mean that their other fellow signees from that year are slacking this season either.
At wide receiver, sophomores Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins are beginning to find their groove, with both players becoming a bigger part of the Miami offense each week.
Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins praised for their development and potential moving forward— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) November 4, 2019
Wiggins made perhaps the play of the game against FSU, hauling in a 56-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter to put the dagger in the Seminoles and seal the win. It was Wiggins’ first career touchdown, and hopefully there’s many more to come.
Pope also notched his first touchdown this season, his coming on a 39-yard Hail Mary from N’Kosi Perry against Virginia Tech. Pope has the skillset to become a premiere receiver in college football, and expect for Miami to hopefully target him more.
You also have offensive lineman DJ Scaife Jr. who has become one of the most reliable and consistent starters on Miami’s OL that has been steadily improving as the year goes on. He’s been thrown around playing guard and left tackle, but has held down RT as of lately. The sophomore is one of the more underrated players on UM, and will continue to develop under OL coach Butch Barry.
On defense, it isn’t just Rousseasu on the defensive line that’s holding it down for 2018. Defensive tackles Nesta Jade Silvera and Jordan Miller have become an integral part of one of the most ferocious DL units in the country.
Several Canes are starting to develop like we thought they would, like Nesta Silvera. #1 was everywhere against FSU pic.twitter.com/nBjMzti5nx— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) November 6, 2019
Silvera came back a few weeks ago from an injury he suffered in fall camp, and played his best game as a Hurricane against the Seminoles, with six tackles while also recording his first career sack. Miller may be a little more quiet than Nesta, but he has turned into a a tackle that can get in the backfield and disrupt the opposing offense. These two are going to be a force on the Miami defensive line for the next couple years.
Then in the secondary, the 2018 class has taken over. Losing three starters from last year, Miami has put Gurvan Hall Jr. at safety, and then switched around with both DJ Ivey and Al Blades Jr. at cornerback.
“Ballgame”-Gurvan Hall pic.twitter.com/AEuTWWAcWl— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) November 6, 2019
Though Hall struggled early in the season, he’s starting to become a leader on the Miami defense, and nearly everyone who watches him play realizes the superstar potential that he has.
DJ Ivey has put that rough stretch behind him. Here he gets his hand in there and Bolden grabs the deflection. I love how he lets the WR know about it afterwards. pic.twitter.com/XdwPYj1Yyc— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) November 3, 2019
Ivey, similar to Hall, struggled early on and had a few rough games. However, he snagged two interceptions against Pitt and locked down FSU receivers, allowing just one reception for six yards.
DJ Ivey really been playing solid at corner lately, we see you #8— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) November 6, 2019
Then there’s Blades, whose been solid throughout the year thus far, and been reliable when it comes to coverage. With UM in his blood and an old-fashioned Canes mentality, Blades may be the next great Miami cornerback.
It’s a Blades thing, you wouldn’t understand. This kid just gets better each week pic.twitter.com/0lZF8iyDED— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) October 14, 2019
Two players from the recruiting class of 2018 that haven’t burst onto the scene but have the potential to is running back Lorenzo Lingard and striker Gilbert Frierson. Lingard was the only five-star recruit to sign with Miami in 2018, but due to injuries he hasn’t had his big break yet. Though, looking ahead to 2020, Lingard is the next expected Canes star.
Frierson has been learning striker under senior Romeo Finley, and the UM staff plus Finley believes that Frierson will be able to take over the position nicely in the future.
Once Romeo Finley is gone, Frierson will fill in that striker role nicely pic.twitter.com/fPnkncOWPF— Greg Rousseau All-American (@hurricanesmarsh) November 6, 2019
Add those two to the already overachieving players also from the 2018 class, and Miami has a plethora of superstars who can help UM take that next step in the coming years.