Gilbert Frierson came to the University of Miami as a six-foot-one, 186 pound cornerback that immediately grew into a safety and then a ‘striker’ or a hybrid outside linebacker in the Manny Diaz 4-2-5 defense. Frierson is not only expected to start this season, but has the potential to be an All-ACC player in ‘21.
A former four-star prospect from Coral Gables High School in South Florida, Frierson worked his way from a redshirt to a starter in his first three seasons on campus. As a striker in 2020, Frierson started 11 games while logging 53 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and four pass break ups on the year.
In my piece for SOTU titled, “Maybe he’s born with it,” I took a closer look at Mr. Frierson and his movement mechanics. Frierson had a few ‘big stat’ games in 2020. He put up great numbers against UVA, NC State and Virginia Tech to name a few. We’re going to break down All-22 film of Frierson versus NCSU. We’ll break down his play based on my piece called, “What college coaches look for in a linebacker prospect,” from last summer.
From my sources at the G5 and P5 levels, college coaches are looking for: the ability to read and react, strength at the point of attack, balance and ankle flexibility, burst, and strength and leverage. The ability to be flexible in your position helps, too. So where does Gil fit into these categories heading into year four at The U?
The info below is collected from the video above:
Read and React- At times I think Gil’s eyes are in the wrong spot, but I thought in the NCSU game he played a great game. 44, 6 and 5 often left him in spots that made him look wrong, but Frierson was doing the right thing in a box defense. He would get wide and force a play in, or he would work on a chain and fill slowly. He’s much better than 6, 44, or 4 in this regard.
Balance and ankle flexibility- He pursues with good leverage and is rarely off balance. He doesn’t play ball on the floor like a lot of defenders do these days. Sheds blocks and keeps his balance. Isn’t a heel striker when sprinting.
Burst- Frierson has great burst and closing speed. He rarely gets out ran or out worked. I love his effort, especially compared to 4. Frierson shouldn’t come off the field at striker unless it’s a true nickel or he’s gassed.
Strength and leverage- Plays too high at the end of the ‘finish.’ Needs to buzz his feet close to contact with the ball carrier and come to balance versus throwing himself at and leaning on ball carriers. Hawk tackling isn’t falling on someone, it’s a tackle made with low, coiled hips that are shot through the ball carrier and driven with five hard steps through their thigh.
Flexibility in position- Gil moved from cornerback to safety to striker, and at striker has played inside and outside. I would say the dude is a jack-of-all-trades. Does he do all of them great, no, who can? But he can play in the flat and in the box and do a good job.
Areas for improvement: Finish. The finish includes pursuit and tackling (or sack, PBU, or interception). It’s one thing to get to the ball, it’s another thing to bring the ball carrier down with a safe and secure tackle. Miami is weak at this all over the field but Frierson could really refine his game into a pro caliber player if he can improve his tackling.
2021 season prediction: 60+ tackles, 10+ TFL’s, 5+ PBU’s, 2+ sacks.