Defensive end Gregory Rousseau is the first member of the Miami Hurricanes to opt out of the 2020 season.
Head coach Manny Diaz broke the news to reporters Thursday afternoon. Just 20 minutes prior, Diaz said that he was expecting his entire team to be at practice on Friday.
“As a coach, we are for these young men and advocates for them,” Diaz said. “We want what is best for him and if that is what he has chosen, we support that.”
Following a breakout redshirt freshman season in 2019, in which he recorded 15.5 sacks (2nd in the FBS), and 19.5 tackles for loss, Rousseau was named the 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and to the 2020 Walter Camp Preseason All-American Team.
The 6-foot-7, 265-pound Rousseau, who’s projected to be a top-ten pick in next year’s NFL Draft, will forgo his redshirt sophomore season and signed with sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Touchdown Wire USA Today’s 2021 NFL mock draft has Rousseau being drafted with the No. 10 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Greg, discovering him years ago when he was at Champagnat [Catholic],” Diaz said. “Outstanding young man. Want to thank him for everything he’s done for the Miami Hurricanes, and we’re going to support him in every way we can with him looking to achieve his dreams of becoming a great player in the National Football League.”
Rousseau joins a long list of college football players to have opted out of the 2020 season, including Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley and Michigan State defensive end Jacub Panasiuk, among others.
“We want what’s best for him,” Diaz said. “If this is what he’s chosen, then we’ll support him. The team, our guys, it’ll be next man up, and our guys will be excited to play.”
Although the absence of Rousseau is detrimental, the Canes have depth at the defensive line position in graduate transfer, Quincy Roche, redshirt junior Jaelan Phillips, and redshirt freshmen Jahfari Harvey. There will be a multitude of opportunities for the younger guys on the roster to step up and show the coaching staff that they belong.
Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker put out a statement supporting Rousseau’s decision and emphasized that other players will have to step up now.
“Obviously, we couldn’t be happier for Greg,” Baker said. “We support him 100 percent in his decision. We had conversations with him and we support him 100 percent in the decision. Guys have to step up and that is why you add a guy like Quincy Roche and added Jaelan Phillips. It is our deepest position we are excited to see what the other guys do this season.”
Manny Navarro of ‘The Athletic’ reported that Rousseau’s little brother said “the unknown long term effects of the coronavirus played the primary role in his decision to opt out this season. Their mother is an emergency room nurse and has seen a lot of young adults die from the virus.”
The news comes just shortly after Miami Palmetto five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor, who narrowed his decision between the University of Miami and the Florida Gators, committed to UM in the afternoon. In the morning, the ACC announced the dates for the Hurricanes’ revised 2020 schedule, in which the UM will open their season against UAB on September 10.
Miami will begin Fall practice on Friday.
This story will be updated.
William Hernandez contributed to this article.