clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Miami Hurricanes 2020 Position Preview: Defensive End

Miami has one of the best defensive end groups in all of college football

Central Michigan v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Without a doubt, no position for the Miami Hurricanes has drawn more attention, and is expected more from than the defensive ends, and for good reason.

Over the last several seasons, Miami has seen great production from this position, from guys like Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin. In 2020, however, there’s reason to believe this could be even a bigger year from the DE’s.

When you’re talking about the Hurricanes defensive ends, you have to start with redshirt sophomore Gregory Rousseau. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Rousseau established himself as one of the best ends in all of college football, racking up 15.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 54 total tackles, earning All-American honors. Rousseau did all of this, even though he didn’t crack the starting lineup until week-six.

Heading into 2020, Rousseau is regarded as the best DE in the nation, and is viewed as a potential top-10 draft pick in 2021. Rousseau has collected tons of preseason accolades, and most recently, was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist.

On the opposite side of the ball, you have Quincy Roche, who came to Miami from Temple via the transfer portal earlier this year. Roche’s stats are just as impressive as Rousseau’s, and in 2019, Roche totaled 13 sacks and 19 TFLs, as he was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

With both Roche and Rousseau, Miami has perhaps the best pass-rushing duo in all of college football, and maybe the best DE duo in school history, as they combined for 28.5 sacks in 2019. Roche was also named to the Bednarik Award watchlist.

And what makes Miami so dangerous at the edge, is that there’s more players to name. Jaelan Phillips, the former number-1 recruit coming out of high school, sat out last season after transferring from UCLA, and is expected to terrorize the opposing backfield in 2020.

In Miami’s one week of spring practice, there was perhaps more talk and excitement surrounding Phillips than any other player on the Canes roster. Bulking up from 225 to 265 pounds, Phillips quickness and size gives Miami a trio of pass-rushers like they’ve never seen before.

While Roche and Rousseau will most likely be the two starters at end, Miami coaches realize the impact that a guy like Phillips can have, so expect to see the California native playing plenty.

There’s also a redshirt freshman at DE that many are thrilled to watch, and that’s Jahfari Harvey, who added 30 pounds of muscle during his redshirt season. Harvey is a player who has many fans excited, and who is seen as the next star on the Hurricanes defensive line. Having 4.5 40-yard dash speed, Harvey is the secret weapon in 2020 that nobody outside of Coral Gables is talking about, but who could potentially make a name for himself this year.

Outside of the big four, there’s other names to know as well. Redshirt freshman Cameron Williams could potentially see playing time, depending on the package. Then, there’s a plethora of true freshman at DE, Chantz Williams, Quentin Williams and Elijah Roberts, though I expect them to take a redshirt in 2020.

In my opinion, the defensive ends will determine if Miami can get back to being a top-10 defense, and will be crucial to the Hurricanes winning more games in 2020. With question marks in the secondary and at linebacker, Miami will be relying on their edge rushers to get to the quarterback, and if they can do that, the Hurricanes will have one of the best defenses in college football.