CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami Hurricanes defensive end Greg Rousseau was named a preseason All-American just last week by the Sporting News. He’s considered one of the top players in the country, and he’s already being mentioned as a potential top-10 pick in next year’s NFL draft.
Yet, Rousseau knows that’s not really the main topic of conversation for most college football fans these days, including the players.
“It’s definitely like the elephant in the room. We talk about it,” Rousseau says.
That “elephant” is the question of whether their will even be a 2020 college football season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The redshirt sophomore and his teammates are back on campus for workouts, but it’s nothing like a normal offseason
“It’s been different obviously with social distancing and stuff. We’ve been making it work and just pushing each other from a distance, six feet away and stuff,” Rousseau says about the bizarre circumstances.
As for those unexpected conversations about what’s going to happen, the 6-foot-7 pass-rusher says the team leans on the message from head coach Manny Diaz.
“What Coach Diaz is telling us is just to stay ready at all times, so that’s what we’re doing. He’s our leader, and he knows what he’s talking about, so we’re just gonna stay ready and whatever happens, happens,” Rousseau says.
If the season does happen, the Hurricanes will count on Rousseau to be a dominant force once again on the defensive line. In his first full season of action, the Coconut Creek native became an instant factor with 15 ½ sacks in 2019. That was second in the nation to Ohio State star Chase Young, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Some draft analysts already believe Rousseau has that kind of potential.
He came to Miami as a three-star recruit from Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah. He played wide receiver and defensive end, and despite his height, he was undersized at just over 200 pounds.
Rousseau says he was always an underdog in high school, but 50 pounds later he’s a massive force on the ’Canes defensive line.
The NFL hype isn’t getting to Rousseau’s head. He credits his parents for keeping him humble, and while he hears the NFL buzz, he’s not going to stop working hard to improve.
“I’m just worried about my next practice, my next lift, my next meeting with my teammates and not just getting caught up in the future”, Rousseau promises. He adds, “I’m gonna be the same player I was last season for sure and keep working hard. You can’t just switch up because things are starting to look like they’re gonna go your way in the future. You never know. Things can happen. I’m just going to keep being me.”
The ‘Canes will happily take that. But first, they’ll need to have an actual season, and that appears to be much more in doubt than Rousseau’s potential at the next level.