Headlined by All-Americans Gregory Rousseau and Quincy Roche, Miami’s defense will often find themselves in the backfields of opposing teams in 2020—led by the down-four. A potential starting defensive line of Rousseau, Roche, Nesta Jade Silvera, and Jonathan Ford should get any ‘Canes fan excited.
Gregory Rousseau is the #ACCFootball Defensive Rookie of the Year!— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) December 4, 2019
He finished the regular season with an ACC-leading 14 sacks – the second-most in the nation.
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Unfortunately, Silvera struggled with injuries in 2019, but we were still able to catch glimpses of his untapped potential. Thankfully, Manny Diaz and his staff have wasted no time on building depth behind their star-studded starting lineup.
Behind the potential starting line mentioned are Jaelan Phillips, Jahfari Harvey, Cameron Williams, Jared Harrison-Hunte, Jason Blissett Jr., and Jalar Holley. If the Hurricanes are able to avoid the ‘injury-bug’ in 2020, the talent and depth alone may rank this unit higher than 2017’s or 2018’s versions.
Jaelan Phillips, a highly-touted player who transferred to Miami early in 2019, is somewhat ‘unproven’ when compared to the likes of Roche and Rousseau. Beginning his collegiate career at UCLA, Phillips was rated as a 5-star recruit and was ranked as the 3rd-best recruit in America by ESPN in 2017. In 2 seasons with the Bruins, he totaled 41 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
The incredible ratings and accolades instantly generated hype surrounding his arrival in Miami—making him somewhat of a ‘wild card’ for the 2020 season. If Miami’s staff is able to develop him properly, they could very well have multiple All-Americans on the defensive line.
Of course, there’s so much that has yet to be seen. A freshman could burst on to the scene and beat-out some of the depth-players listed. With the departure of Scott Patchan, the door is open for Williams or Harvey. Even if Miami doesn’t completely live up to the pre-season hype, we can assume that the defensive line will be a solid group on the roster.