Miami's Greg Rousseau Will Opt Out of CFB Season amid Pandemic, Manny Diaz Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Miami defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau (15) celebrates a turnover and wears the turnover chain during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Central Michigan, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau has opted out of the 2020 college football season.

Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz confirmed Rousseau's decision to reporters on Thursday. The redshirt sophomore had 15.5 sacks and 54 tackles in 2019, earning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

"We support him 100 percent in his decision," Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker said, per Christy Chirinos of Miami's official athletics site. "We'd had some conversations with him in the previous days and knew it was something on his mind. ... At the end of the day, we support him."

Rousseau joins the list of players who have decided to sit out the upcoming year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley was the first, followed by Minnesota receiver wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Penn State defensive end Micah Parsons.

Given what he achieved in his first full season on the field, expectations were high for Rousseau. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked him 11th in his initial big board for the 2021 draft:

"Production usually catches your eye first when putting together an early big board. Then you go back and watch the player to see whether he has the requisite athleticism to make him a good draft prospect.

"Gregory Rousseau's 15.5 sacks last season is the kind of production you love to see, especially when coupled with a 6'7", 253-pound frame that has quickness and length but is still getting stronger."

Rousseau may have already played his last game for Miami, and the obvious question is whether he's the last highly ranked draft prospect who decides to opt out.

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

Couple quick thoughts on college guys opting out: 1) Rousseau is special. Best player I’ve studied in the upcoming class. 2) More big names are going to announce soon. 3) Some other big names are waiting to see if the season will happen before opting out.

"I know there's probably some guys that can see more playing time and will probably thrive on that situation," Baker said of Miami's remaining options at defensive end, per Chirinos.

Miami had added Quincy Roche as a graduate transfer from Temple to bolster its D-line. Roche had 26 sacks and 39.5 tackles for loss over three seasons with the Owls. The redshirt senior was already slated to start alongside Rousseau, so now Miami will need to figure out who replaces Rousseau at defensive end. 

Jaelan Phillips might be the likeliest candidate. Phillips sat out 2019 after transferring from UCLA. He collected 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss through his first two years with the Bruins.