Joel Rodriguez, UM’s director of player development/defense, offered an assessment of the Hurricanes’ defensive ends as part of a series breaking down the team and looking ahead to its season opener Sept. 2 (7:30 p.m., ABC) against LSU in Arlington, Texas:
▪ On Lake Worth High grad Jonathan Garvin: “He has as high a ceiling as any player on our defense. He has the ability to be a guy you see walking across the stage with the red carpet with (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell in the early part of the draft two years from now. Long, loose hips. Can play the entire play at a low pad level without falling over.
“Can get under longer, taller tackles and use his functional strength against them. He can change direction quickly. Jon and (UM freshman) Greg Rousseau have this natural God-given slipperiness, have a way to get through tight windows, which is invaluable as a pass rusher.
“What surprised us this spring is how sturdy Jon Garvin was in the run game. He looks a lot thicker now. He has put the time and effort into the weight room; his body has transformed in the past year. He’s still a long lean kid and you worry about those guys being able to hold up. But he’s able to generate so much power. He might have been best setting the edge in the run game this spring.”
▪ On Demetrius Jackson, UM’s best defensive end against the run, who missed the spring while recovering from knee surgery: “D-Jax is a very aggressive, very physical, heavy-handed player, but he doesn’t have the natural length or levers that Joe Jackson has. D-Jax overcomes some of the physical limitations with effort and physical aggression.”
▪ On Joe Jackson, whose sacks dropped slightly from 7 1/2 as a freshman to 6 1/2 as a sophomore: “Joe Jackson is a great kid, a great example of what you want a young man to be like in college. It’s human nature to have 7 1/2 sacks your freshman year and then all you heard about for 10 months was how great he is — and that he’s on pace to be the next Jadeveon Clowney.
“He didn’t play bad last year at all but (the same) production wasn’t there. If you can use that in a roundabout way to add motivation, that’s awesome because you are always trying to find ways to challenge your older, more established players.”
▪ On Gregory Rousseau, who had nine sacks in three spring scrimmages: “With freshmen in general, you have to go game by game (as far as playing time and expectations). If we can get Greg to give us 25 to 30 snaps of productive football in that LSU game — really good snaps of setting edges, being physical, affecting the quarterback — then that would be a successful debut. Whoever the starting tackle is for LSU is probably going to be better than what our backups were this spring, which is who he was going against.
“Maybe Greg’s 25 snaps come on a third-down pass rush package where he only does that. As he masters that, he can eventually take on bigger chunk of snaps. We have four defensive ends ahead of him who have played snaps in big games for us; he doesn’t have to play a lot right now.”
▪ On Scott Patchan, who has returned to defensive end after a year at tight end: “He has some tools, some natural pass rush feel, and one thing about Scott that’s similar to D-Jax is this: Some guys have to try to be physical. With Scott, it comes natural. As long as can stay healthy, he will find himself entrenched in the rotation and will be a guy to give us a lot of quality snaps.”
Rodriguez makes this sound point: “With the way college football is being played now — with coach (Willie) Taggart, FSU is playing up tempo now — you need to play five, six defensive ends. Nothing anyone does in a football game is more tiring than rushing the passer. To have a wave of competent fresh bodies really helps.”
And UM believes it has that with these five ends, though an injury would be hurtful.
Running back enrolls: Four-star running back Camron Davis has enrolled for summer session two, meaning all members of the ballyhooed 2018 freshman class are now on campus. Davis, from Miami Carol City High, was rated by Rivals as the sixth-best running back and 81st-best prospect overall.