First as a defensive coordinator and now head coach, Manny Diaz has seen his defensive ends continue to be a bright spot for the Hurricanes, and in the past two seasons, they’ve continued to thrive at the position.
This past year, the Canes featured two star players at DE in Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche. Phillips totaled 8 sacks, 45 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 3 pass deflections and 1 interception, while earning first-team AFCA All-American honors.
Roche came to Miami from Temple early in 2020, and finished his final college strong, with 5 sacks, 45 tackles and 14.5 TFLs.
I know there's a lot of buzz around Phillips and Bolden right now but Quincy Roche through three games has been so important to this defense.— Art (@CaneFilms) October 1, 2020
My defensive MVP. Leads the defense with 11 pressures. Closest to him is Nesta with 7.
Tied for team lead in sacks. pic.twitter.com/mSvbXJTQmI
Then when it came time for the NFL Draft, Miami’s defensive ends took center stage. Phillips and Gregory Rousseau were both selected in the first round, while Roche was later selected in the sixth round. UM became the first school since 2006 to have two defensive ends selected in the first round.
As the stats read, Miami stands alone, having the most 1st-round defensive line draft picks of any school in NFL history.
Rousseau sat out the 2020 season due to Covid, but made his mark the year prior. In 2019, Rousseau, who played safety and wide receiver in high school, was an unstoppable force, leading the ACC with 15.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs, to go along with 54 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. Rousseau was named second-team All-American. Oh, he did that as a redshirt freshman by the way.
15.5 sacks ✔️— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) March 30, 2020
2019 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year ✔️
2019 Freshman All-America ✔️
Gregory Rousseau delivered one of most dominant seasons by a defensive lineman in Miami history. pic.twitter.com/rrrMVynb91
In the last two years, Miami has established themselves as one of the best programs in college football when it comes to developing defensive ends.
#DEU developed into millionaires!! 3 ⭐️ & 5 ⭐️— Canes Chief (@Canes_Chief) April 30, 2021
R1:P18: Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins
Total contract value: $14 million
Signing bonus: $7.6 million
R1:P30: Greg Rousseau, Buffalo Bills
Total contract value: $11.6 million
Signing bonus: $5.8 million pic.twitter.com/iZjd4hfFmP
Something coach Diaz has done a great job at since he’s been here, is working with and hiring excellent DL coaches. Craig Kuligowski arrived at UM along with Diaz in 2016, and stayed at Miami for two seasons. Then, Jess Simpson came (for the first time) in 2018, before taking a job with the Atlanta Falcons. He was replaced by Todd Stroud, who took the Canes DE’s to new heights in 2019 and 2020.
In 2016, true freshman Joe Jackson broke out with 7.5 sacks, 32 tackles and 10.5 TFLs. Trent Harris added 9.5 TFLs, Chad Thomas had 4.5 sacks and 11 TFLs.
Enjoy your two more seasons watching Joe Jackson at Miami, Canes fans pic.twitter.com/oZHjXvQlMc— Peter Ariz (@PeterAriz) December 29, 2016
2017 was when we really saw the Canes d-line start to come together. Jackson kept improving, ending the year with 6.5 sacks, 10.5 and 50 tackles. Harris led the team with 8.5 sacks, while also having 10.5 TFLs. Thomas racked up 4.5 sacks and 12.5 TFLs, and Demetrius Jackson was impactful as well, with 3.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs.
2nd random Cane of the day: Trent Harris. Harris led the 2017 Canes in sacks with 8.5, and also had 10.5 TFLs pic.twitter.com/Sz13OVG9xl— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 3, 2020
Simpson arrived in 2018, but the play didn’t slow down at DE. Sophomore Jonathan Garvin was the next one to have a breakout year, with 5.5 sacks, 17 TFLs, 60 tackles and 5 pass deflections. Jackson didn’t stop as a junior, ending the year with 8.5 sacks and 14.5 TFLs, as the duo of him and Garvin was relentless.
Fan of Miami EDGE Jonathan Garvin. Has impressive hand strength, wins with the rip move here. A name to watch for the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/EvWEwvDCn4— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) June 16, 2019
In the five seasons since Diaz became defensive coordinator and eventually head coach, 10 times a Hurricanes defensive end notched at least 10 TFLs in a season, 4 DE’s reached at least 8 sacks in a season, with 7 DE’s getting at least 5 sacks in a season. The productivity is constant.
Gregory Rousseau's FSU tape is nsfw, IOL had no answer for him.pic.twitter.com/b0Pb3GHoI4— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 21, 2020
Since 2016, according to Football Outsiders, Miami’s defensive line has been ranked in the top-10 in the nation three out of five years.
Miami has become the first program to have 2 defensive ends drafted in the first round since NC State accomplished it 2006.— Robby Espin (@robbyespin) April 30, 2021
Miami HC Manny Diaz and last year’s DL Coach Todd Stroud were both on the Wolfpack staff.
And finally, since Diaz came to Miami, the Hurricanes have had 7 defensive ends drafted into the NFL, with 2 of them going in the first round. In 2020, Bleacher Report ranked Miami #1 for producing defensive lineman.
I like what I've seen from Joe Jackson (#99) from Miami (FL). Rips through the tight end and runs the arc to get pressure on Daniel Jones. pic.twitter.com/sAcZJWpwdL— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) August 4, 2018
Simpson has returned as DL coach for the Canes, and I fully expect that unit and the d-ends to continue to play at a high level. Younger players like Jahfari Harvey, Chantz Williams and Cam Williams will now be expected to produce, while Deandre Johnson, transfer from Tennessee, will look to elevate his game in his final season.
Manny Diaz: We’ve got some defensive ends that are problems and Jahfari [Harvey] is one of them. pic.twitter.com/nSzKhWSAJa— Susan Miller Degnan (@smillerdegnan) July 29, 2019
Bottom line, coach Diaz knows that his defensive ends are a big part of his defensive success, and he’s had the right DL coaches, who know how to utilize the players on the edge.
Manny Diaz “Defensive end is a glamor position on this defense.”— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 6, 2021
The recent success of the Canes DE’s is especially important for 2022 recruiting, a class that is insanely stacked at the position with pass rushers. Shemar Stewart, Kenyatta Jackson, Dante Anderson, Nyjalik Kelly and Marvin Jones Jr. are the headliners, all from South Florida. Though, there are plenty more besides them, and the Canes need to take advantage.
We still got a ways to go, but the Sunshine State’s 2022 defensive line class could be one of the best ever and rival what the state produced back in 2016. https://t.co/pQ8brTcKGz pic.twitter.com/j6NI0Opeao— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) February 25, 2021
If these recruits can see that Miami is a place where they can be developed into a star, and then a high draft pick to the NFL, the Hurricanes d-line room will be overflowing with elite talent for the next several years.