Over the years, the University of Miami has produced talented football players looking to take their careers to new heights in the National Football League (NFL) and represent the Hurricanes in the sport’s highest level.
Many former Canes have had standout performances throughout the first half of the 2021-2022 NFL season and have proved to be impact players.
From veterans like Denzel Perryman to rookies like Gregory Rousseau, the Hurricanes have made their presence felt around the league.
Below is a breakdown of how these Canes alumni have fared in the big leagues this season:
Gregory Rousseau: Defensive End, Buffalo Bills
Gregory Rousseau was the Buffalo Bills’s first round draft choice in 2021 and has proved his team right thus far.
Through the Bills’ first six games, he compiled 17 solo tackles, three sacks, and an interception and has earned himself a starting spot on Buffalo’s defensive line.
Rousseau’s biggest game came in Week Five in Buffalo’s 38-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. That night, Rousseau had five tackles, a sack, and a crucial interception off Patrick Mahomes that helped lead the Bills to victory.
His performance earned him the honor of American Football Conference (AFC) Defensive Player of the Week.
Despite his youth and inexperience in the league, Rousseau has demonstrated maturity early in his career and strong communication with his coaches, especially after intercepting Mahomes.
“I’m really just doing everything our coaches preach. So, I just followed through with that, and I was able to tip [the football] up,” Rousseau said.
Jaelan Phillips: Linebacker, Miami Dolphins
Phillips was another first-round draft pick from the Hurricanes, selected 18th overall by the Miami Dolphins.
His great upside and strong NFL Combine numbers were more than enough for him to project to be a talented edge rusher in the league.
In his rookie campaign with the Dolphins, Phillips has racked together seven solo tackles and 1.5 sacks through the Dolphins’ first six games while battling through injuries that have held him back from playing at his full potential.
In the Dolphins’ Week Five match-up against the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Phillips had four tackles and a sack against legendary quarterbackTom Brady.
Despite his strong efforts on defense, Phillips spoke about the Dolphins’ struggles and slow start midway through the season.
“Frankly, we’re not getting it done on defense, so getting a sack in the game doesn’t really mean too much in the grand scheme of things,” Phillips said.
KJ Osborn: Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Osborn was a fifth-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2020, and has broken out for Minnesota in 2021. He’s racked up 26 catches on the year for 311 yards and two touchdowns.
Osborns burst onto the scene for the Vikings in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, in which he had five catches totaling 91 yards and a touchdown in a narrow 34-33 loss to the Cardinals.
He then followed that outing with another stellar performance in an overtime win over the Panthers in Week Six, in which he logged six receptions for 78 yards and the game-winning touchdown on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins.
Denzel Perryman: Linebacker, Las Vegas Raiders
Perryman was a second-round pick by the San Diego Chargers in 2015 and spent five years playing there before signing a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers in March and then being traded to the Raiders.
With Las Vegas, Perryman has been having himself quite a season with 45 solo tackles and he is the only Raider that has had double-digit total tackles in every game this season.
In the Raiders’ Week six victory over the Denver Broncos, Perryman had 12 total tackles, 6 solo tackles and a fumble recovery to help lead the Raiders to victory.
Despite being a member of the team for a short period of time, he has made an instant impact and has proven to be a talented linebacker that would greatly boost any team’s front seven.
While the NFL has over two dozen players who donned the orange, green and white uniforms of The U, Rousseau, Phillips, Osborn and Perryman have taken the league by storm through the first six weeks of the 2021-2022 season, but only two will get a chance to add to their accolades this season in Week 7.
On Sunday, Oct. 24, the Phillips and the Dolphins will take on Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m., and the Raiders will battle the Philadelphia Eagles at 4 p.m.