Miami football 2020 preview: Defensive line

Redshirt Junior Defensive End Jaelan Phillips waits for the snap during Miami's Final Scrimmage, taking place at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept 4.
Redshirt junior defensive end Jaelan Phillips waits for the snap during Miami's final fall camp scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept 4. Photo credit: Tim Brogdon/Miami Athletics

A few months ago, the Miami Hurricanes defensive line was being discussed in the same conversations as those of elite college football programs around the country. Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and Pittsburgh have all created defensive juggernauts in recent years and heading into the 2020 season, Miami’s defensive line has been praised for its to strong transfer acquisitions, signings, and homegrown development.

However, with defensive end phenom Gregory Rousseau opting out of the season, there is plenty of skepticism surrounding how Miami will be able to compensate for the loss of the ACC’s leader in sacks and tackles for loss in 2019.

Fortunately for the Canes, there is plenty of star talent to go around and fill the gridiron with defensive prowess. With Rousseau gone, the defensive end responsibilities on the field for Miami will fall more heavily on a AAC Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-AAC award winner Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips, a transfer from UCLA who was the highest-ranked signee in the nation in 2017.

Phillips is arguably the most physically gifted weapon on Miami’s defense. At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, he will look to make a big impact for Miami in 2020 after sitting out last fall due to NCAA transfer rules.

Joining the two are a handful of established returners in senior defensive tackle Jon Ford and junior defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera. Ford, who started all 13 games for Miami last season, totaled 18 tackles, three-and-a-half tackles for loss, and three sacks, while Silvera is expected to make his first career start with Miami following the graduation of senior Pat Bethel.

Three redshirt freshmen – Jahfari Harvey, Jalar Holley, and Jared Harrison-Hunte – and redshirt sophomore Jordan Miller are also expected to cycle in the rotation. Harvey, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive lineman from Vero Beach, Fla. was a four-star prospect coming out of high school. He saw action in four games last season as a true freshman, where he tallied just one tackle. However, he figures to see extended play this season and be a strong piece of Miami’s defensive rotation.

Depth Chart

Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche will spearhead Miami’s offense at the defensive end position, with Jahfari Harvey slotted to share time with Roche on the field. At defensive tackle, the Hurricanes will prioritize their experienced players over their youth, granting Jon Ford and Nesta Jade Silvera as well-deserved starters after strong 2019 campaigns. Behind them are Jalar Holley and Jordan Miller, respectively, who look to maximize their opportunities on the field as developing players in a defensively deep Hurricanes roster.