One of the more unsung heroes for the Miami defense this season, redshirt sophomore Gilbert Frierson is quietly putting together an elite year at the striker position. Frierson is 4th on the Canes in tackles, and he’s 2nd in TFLs. He also has totaled 2 pass deflections and a fumble recovery.
Someone who isn’t getting enough credit is Gilbert Frierson. I said in the off season I like Frierson as my breakout player on defense, and he isn’t disappointing. Very solid in coverage, physical as a tackler. Doing a great job at striker pic.twitter.com/ywwgm8pOiD— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) October 4, 2020
Back in 2018, Frierson came to Miami as a four-star recruit out of Coral Gables High School, a product of Dade County. Fun fact, he’s also cousins with UM legend, running back Frank Gore.
However, Frierson was recruited as a cornerback, but made the switch to striker after his freshman year. During the 2019 season, he was able to sit behind former Miami striker Romeo Finley, and learn from one of the more professional and instinctive players that UM has had in recent years.
Gilbert Frierson on how his CB background helps now: "I like it. My adjustment, last year, was to learn striker..."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) October 13, 2020
He credits Romeo Finley with helping him adjust.
"This year, I know the defense. It's about putting myself in the best position to make the play."
“Romeo helped me a lot,” Frierson told the media last week. “That’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing today.” Frierson went on to say how last year was a learning experience, as he tried to figure out a new position, but this season he knows the defense a lot better.
Romeo Finley on fellow striker Gilbert Frierson being one of the guys on the team that gets most hyped up during games pic.twitter.com/DsAY6jSyGP— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) November 5, 2019
Frierson entered the 2020 season, faced with the task of replacing Finley at striker, who had moved on to the NFL. A position battle waged on during the off-season and fall camp, with Frierson competing against Keontra Smith for the starting job. Frierson ultimately won, and hasn’t disappointed at all.
I'm really excited to see the Canes strikers this season. I think Gilbert Frierson is one of the guys who breaks out in 2020. Also very high on Keontra Smith, young player who can make an impact on defense.— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) August 13, 2020
With his physical attributes, combined with an increasing football I.Q., Frierson is becoming a force of a player, and one of the best that Miami has on its defense. He has experience at cornerback and knowledge of the safety position, which has helped him be dependable in coverage and passing situations. Then, he’s physical enough and uses great technique when it comes to tackling.
Frierson at striker provides a bit more big-play ability because of size than Romeo. Not sure he's better yet but there were some nice glimpses last season in limited action.— Brandon Odoi (@Brandon_Odoi) September 11, 2020
No game has Frierson flashed his skills and potential more, than against #1 Clemson two weeks ago. In that humbling loss, Frierson was perhaps the most productive player on Miami’s defense, and received the 2nd highest grade game for a Miami player by PFF. Frierson ended the night with 6 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 pass deflection and 1 fumble recovery.
Gilbert Frierson continued to play well against the #1 team in the country.— Arturo (@CaneFilms) October 12, 2020
2nd on the team in tackles with 7 on the night, 1 PBU & a fumble recovery.
He continues to take great angles and is always around the ball. The coaches definitely trust him on defense. pic.twitter.com/RBD9OnO7x3
What also stood out to me, was what Frierson said to the media following the Clemson game.
“We trust each other. Even the Clemson game, things weren’t going good, but we stayed positive,” Frierson told reporters. “We were trying to play the next play...We’re always moving forward.”
Gilbert Frierson on why he feels this team is different: "Trust. We trust each other. Even the Clemson game, things weren't going good, but we stayed positive. We were trying to play the next play...We're always moving forward."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) October 13, 2020
You’re always trying to find new leaders on your team, and Frierson left an impression when he made those comments. His work ethic off the field has people taking notice as well.
Special teams/strikers coach Jonathan Patke has been very pleased with Frierson, and notes how preparation is one of the biggest factors in his success.
Jonathan Patke on Gilbert Frierson: "He knows the entire defense...his preparation is second to none. He's constantly studying, he's constantly texting me...where I'm really proud of him right now is his tackling...the last two games, there hasn't been a better tackler."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) October 13, 2020
“The reason he makes a lot of the plays he makes is because he knows the play before the play,” Patke told reporters last week. “That’s all film study. He wants to know everything about the defense.”
Gilbert Frierson Vs. FSU— Arturo (@CaneFilms) September 28, 2020
Our highest graded player against the Noles per Pro Football Focus. 5 tkls, 2 tkfl, & 1 pass breakup. No missed tackles. pic.twitter.com/KeuLQbE2fz
Prior to Clemson, Frierson turned in another great performance against rival FSU, finishing with 5 tackles, 2 TFLs and a pass break-up, and he didn’t miss a single tackle. In coverage, Frierson gave up two catches……for -3 yards. With the way he’s been playing and improving each week, don’t be surprised if you see Frierson’s name on some All-ACC teams after the season.