Football, Sports

How Miami’s NFL rookies have fared so far this season

By the time the door had closed on the 2020 NFL Draft, several others burst open for four members of last year’s Miami team. The draft did not fare well for Miami through the first three rounds, with no players being selected, but the final four rounds saw Shaquille Quarterman, DeeJay Dallas, KJ Osborn and Jonathan Garvin come off the board and embark on their professional careers.

With the NFL season approaching its midpoint heading into Week 8, the Hurricanes’ 2020 draft class has already begun to see samples of play time with their respective teams. Below is an update on each Hurricane rookie in the NFL and how their talents on the gridiron have translated from their college careers to the pros:

Shaquille Quarterman: Jacksonville Jaguars 4th round pick, 140th overall

Quarterman – a linebacker – was the first Hurricane selected in the draft and reasonably so. A four-year starter for the Canes, he claimed sole possession of the university’s consecutive starts record at 52 and registered 356 tackles in his college career, placing him ninth on the Hurricane’s all-time list.

Since his freshman year in 2016, Quarterman’s name has been a familiar find in All-ACC honors. He was named to the All-ACC Honorable Mention Team by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, the All-ACC Third Team by college coaches and to the Freshman All-America Team by ESPN, 247Sports and Pro Football Focus. Quarterman proceeded to be named to the All-ACC Second Team in 2017 and All-ACC First Team in 2018.

Now playing in his hometown of Jacksonville with the Jaguars, Quarterman is a reserve behind 2016 fourth-rounder Joe Schobert. While he has played in all seven games for the Jaguars this season, he has recorded only three tackles and has seen limited time on the field. His best performance came on Sept. 20 in a 33-30 loss versus the Tennessee Titans in which he recorded two solo tackles.

“Everyone raves about [Shaquille Quarterman’s] leadership, his toughness. Guys follow his lead, which is just what you want out of the middle linebacker position,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

DeeJay Dallas: Seattle Seahawks 4th round Pick, 144th overall

Deejay Dallas (13) stiff arms a defender during the game versus FIU on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Marlins Park.

Deejay Dallas (13) stiff arms a defender during the game versus FIU on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Marlins Park. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Running back DeeJay Dallas, drafted just four spots below Quarterman, was an exceptional offensive players during his three season with the Canes. Despite playing in similar game totals across all three seasons, Dallas skyrocketed his offensive production between his freshman and sophomore years and continued that trend through his junior year. By the end of his college career, Dallas had annually improved his total rushing yards, average yards per rush, touchdowns and yards per game.

With the Seahawks, Dallas has played in four games and has registered stats in two of his outings. In a 37-34 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, he tallied two receptions for 18 yards. In a 31-23 win versus the Miami Dolphins, he rushed for eight yards and had two receptions totaling 15 yards.

As the Seahawks’ third reserve at running back, Dallas’s time on the field has come in small doses. However, injuries to starter Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and former Hurricane Travis Homer leaves Dallas as the only healthy running back on the Seahawks’ roster. In Week 8, Dallas projects to see a significant increase usage for Seattle.

“DeeJay Dallas is the best pass-protecting back in this year’s class. He’s really a bulldog. He is capable of grinding out those tough yards,” Joseph said of Dallas prior to the NFL Draft.

KJ Osborn: Minnesota Vikings 5th round pick, 176th overall

K.J. Osborn catches a pass during Miami's loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19, 2019.

K.J. Osborn catches a pass during Miami's loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19, 2019. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Prior to his season with the Hurricanes, wide receiver KJ Osborn spent four seasons with the Buffalo Bulls. As one of the Bulls’ top play-makers in his final two seasons, Osborn was named to the All-MAC Second Team and was a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s top receiver. As a Hurricane, he recorded five touchdowns and 547 receiving yards across 13 games.

Due to the Vikings’ strong depth with receivers, Osborn has yet to record a reception with Minnesota. Through the first three games of his career, he has assumed a special teams role with a punt and seven kickoffs.

“His value is going to come as a potential punt returner for us. We think he has a legitimate [shot at] winning the punt return and the kick return job with his explosive speed and power,” Vikings General Managers Rick Spielman said.

Jonathan Garvin: Green Bay Packers 7th round pick, 242 overall

Defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin’s three-year tenure with the Canes saw his stock climb following a dominant sophomore campaign in which he recorded 60 total tackles and 17 tackles for loss.

In his six games as part of Green Bay’s outside linebacker unit, Garvin has recorded four total tackles, three of which came in a 38-10 loss versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 18.

“He might not be in the rotation right away, but he could become a regular rotation player or maybe even a starter with two to three more years of physical and technical development,” CBS Sports reporter Chip Patterson said. “He is very raw, but very good as an edge rusher.”

The undrafted batch: Rookie free agents seeking a job

The Canes had five additional eligible players – Romeo Finley, Trevon Hill, Jeff Thomas, Trajan Bandy and Michael Pinckney – that were not selected by NFL teams during the seven founds of the draft. However, they have sought to sign with teams as undrafted free agents.

Finley and Hill signed with the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots, respectively, but have yet to see any playing time on football’s biggest stage.

Thomas, a wide receiver, followed Hill in signing with the Patriots, but was released on Sept. 5. Bandy, a defensive back who had signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers post-draft, was also released on the same date.

Two-time All-ACC Honorable Mention Michael Pinckney was recovering from hip surgery during the time of the draft, but was adamant about making a run for the NFL once fully recovered. As of Oct. 2, the linebacker has been a member of the Patriots and is currently assigned to their practice squad.

While these former Canes, as early exits from college football, are either unemployed or just getting started with their professional careers, Miami head coach Manny Diaz understands that the players’ decisions are their own to make for their well-being and future.

“Our job is to be nothing but a mentor,” Diaz said. “No matter what they choose, it’s up to them to make their decision right. We root for all of our guys when they leave the program.”

October 30, 2020

Reporters

Daniel Toll


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