Gregory Rousseau was one of the first players to opt out of the 2020 college football season and begin preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Although it was tough watching the Miami Hurricanes from a distance, the talented defensive end has no regrets about his decision.
Earlier this year, Rousseau provided some context as to why he opted out of the 2020 season. It was a selfless act from Rousseau, who put his family first.
“Really it was just that my mom and dad are both on the front lines,” Rousseau said on The Joe Rose Show. “My mom is a COVID nurse and for me to have the opportunity to help them…if I wasn’t able to help them, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. That was definitely what pushed me to make that decision.”
Now that Rousseau’s college career is behind him, the All-ACC performer can focus on achieving his lifelong dream of making the NFL. But make no mistake, he still checks in on the Hurricanes from time to time.
We sat down with Rousseau to discuss his preparation for the NFL Draft, the differences between Mark Richt and Manny Diaz, what the future holds for D’Eriq King, and much more.
The Spun: You were one of the first prospects to opt out of the 2020 season. Looking back at that decision, did you ever feel like ‘Man, I could’ve been the missing piece this year?’
Greg Rousseau: I’m definitely at peace with my decision, but at the same time I definitely miss football and miss playing this season. You can’t substitute that with working out. I had to make the best decision for me and my family though.
— Gregory Rousseau (@Greg_R5) August 7, 2020
The Spun: What have the past few months been like in terms of preparation for the NFL Draft?
GR: I’ve been working hard every single day, whether it’s lifting drills or working on my mechanics. And I’ve been doing this since late August, so it’s been a grind.
The Spun: Mock drafts have you ranked inside the top 10. How do you handle all the outside noise about your potential?
GR: For my name to be up there is a blessing from God. This is what kids dream for their whole entire lives. I need to make sure I stay humble, and really this motivates me to keep on working for those people who don’t make it. I have to keep on working hard if I want to reap the benefits of my opportunity.
The Spun: What’s the biggest difference between Manny Diaz and Mark Richt?
GR: They were both great guys – love them both – but Coach Richt was more old school and laid back. He’s an old SEC coach, so that’s his vibe. Coach Diaz was more energetic and had more juice than Coach Richt. They are both great coaches, they just have different philosophies.
Miami Hurricanes pass rusher Gregory Rousseau credits coach Manny Diaz for turning his football career around and "opening his eyes" to the defensive end position:https://t.co/XB2UoZvHaN pic.twitter.com/BluaSDcvi1
— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 2, 2020
The Spun: How far away is Miami from contending for a national title?
GR: I really don’t think we’re too far. We’re just missing some pieces on the offensive line and need to land a big recruit here and there. We obviously have great tight ends, but we need more help at offensive line and in the receiving corps. The defense being more consistent on a game-to-game basis would really put Miami over to the top. They already have a leader in D’Eriq King, and I’m not sure if he’ll come back for next season, but if he does come back they’re going to be a squad to reckon with for sure.
The Spun: Have you been watching D’Eriq King, and if so how do you think his game translates to the NFL?
GR: I think he could play in the NFL. You see guys like Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray shining in the NFL, so why can’t D’Eriq King? He’s a really hard worker. I spent time with him last winter, and he’s honestly a dawg. Being out there he really pushes you. I think he’s going to prosper with whatever organization he ends up going to, whether it’s in 2021 or 2022.
— Gregory Rousseau (@Greg_R5) November 14, 2020
The Spun: What’s your take on other schools trying to come up with their own turnover chain or celebration? Are Miami players or OK with that, or are you guys like ‘Get your own thing’?
GR: Yeah, that’s ours! Get your own. Miami is the original for sure. Some of them have some good ones, I know Georgia is the O.G. with the shoulder pad with the spikes, so I respect them. But the rest of them, man, they’re all gimmicks. They’re all just trying to copy Miami.
The Spun: What is one area of your game you’re currently working on to improve?
GR: My hands for sure. The offensive linemen in the pros are no joke. I know they’re going to have faster hands and better footwork, so I’m trying to get my hands up to speed. At the same time, I’m not neglecting any parts of my game. I don’t want to work too much on my hands, but then my get-off isn’t good. I’m trying to polish up everything, but some emphasis is put on my hands.
The Spun: Are there any NFL players you study to improve your game?
GR: I got a few. I watch Calais Campbell because I like what he does when he bumps inside – he’s inside very frequently. I also watch a lot of Nick Bosa and Brian Burns.
Nearly a minute of Gregory Rousseau being unstoppable pic.twitter.com/TPuKQ578lQ
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 12, 2020
The Spun: Who’s the toughest player you’ve faced in college?
GR: The tackle from Virginia Tech, Christian Darrisaw, and Jimmy Morrissey from Pittsburgh. They were really good in the trenches.
The Spun: You faced Trevor Lawrence. You hear this talk about him staying one more year. Do you think he passes up being the No. 1 pick?
GR: I feel like God has a plan for everybody. No matter what, going into the NFL and being part of an organization – whether it’s the Jets or another team – is a huge blessing. Millions of people would want to be the No. 1 pick, but they can’t. No matter what team you go to, it’s a blessing. Also whatever team you go to isn’t going to be bad forever. Nick Bosa went No. 2 overall to San Francisco and they made the Super Bowl that year. Even if the Jets are bad now, they’re not going to be bad forever, especially if they get Trevor Lawrence.
The Spun: Which NFL quarterback[s] are you most eager to sack?
GR:I’d definitely love to get after Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson because they’re both super slippery.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Gregory Rousseau?
GR: I feel like I’m a person who has a contagious energy and can lead by example. I’m not going to shy away from anyone. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes, but I’m not going to be the guy in the back of the line. I’m going to make the best impression I can and lead a room in the NFL.
Gregory Rousseau➡️ Top-ranked edge defender in the 2021 NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/t6ohwTGQ5Q
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 18, 2020
Rousseau was nearly unstoppable during the 2019 season, registering 54 total tackles, 15.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. That type of production was almost on par with that of Chase Young, who ended up being the second pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If there are any doubts about Rousseau’s skillset, he’ll get to put them to rest at the NFL Combine next year. He should post impressive numbers at the scouting event.
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