One of the trademarks of Manny Diaz’s defenses has been athletic defensive lineman that can cause havoc in the backfield, with the recently departed Gerald Willis III, Joe Jackson, and Demetrius Jackson coming to mind. Those forces of nature left a vacuum that will need to be filled if Miami wants to remain one of the top defensive units in the country. This task will be the first true test for new defensive coordinator Blake Baker and defensive line coach Todd Stroud, as there will need to be some quick development with the current group. On the other hand, there is plenty of upside with highly-rated recruits (Nesta Silvera, Scott Patchan, Jahfari Harvey, Pat Bethel) and players with interesting attributes (Jonathan Ford, Jonathan Garvin), but the most intriguing prospect of the bunch could be redshirt freshman Gregory Rousseau.
Rousseau was the 15th-rated athlete in the nation in the class of 2018, and has the physical specs and production to match. At 6’6” and 250 lbs, the Coconut Creek-native is definitely a physically-imposing figure. Where he gains his athlete designation was his high level of play on both sides of the ball. As a junior, Rousseau was an All-Dade first team selection after catching 9 touchdowns as a receiver and tallying 44 tackles as a defensive lineman in 2016. In his senior season, Rousseau led the Champagnat Catholic defense with 80 tackles and 10 sacks, including 9 tackles and 3 sacks in their state championship victory. Demonstrating skills on both sides of the ball alludes to a scary upside that could be achieved with the right coaching.
Has Rousseau developed his body enough in the weight room and his technique on the field to make a second-year jump as a regular playmaker? His first season in Coral Gables was cut short by injury, and after playing in only the first two contests was granted a redshirt. Gregory Rousseau could still be a year away, or he could be ready to make a splash this season as an athletic pass rusher for the new Miami.