They’re homegrown prizes, plucked right from the University of Miami’s backyard and ready to bring the team they adored as children back to the forefront of college football.
One is a former Champagnat Catholic defensive end approaching 6-7, tall enough to bat down plenty of passes and smother plenty of quarterbacks.
Another is a consensus four-star cornerback who played on both sides of the ball at Coral Gables High — and by the way, is cousins with Miami Hurricanes legend and NFL great Frank Gore, who has gained more than 14,000 yards rushing as a pro.
And the third is a cornerback who tallied six interceptions during his senior season at Homestead South Dade High and according to Hurricanes cornerback coach Mike Rumph, “has a big chip on his shoulder’’ because “he doesn’t get the credit’’ he deserves.
Defensive end Gregory Rousseau and cornerbacks Gilbert Frierson and DJ Ivey are part of the contingent of 10 Hurricanes who enrolled early, are already in school and participating in mat drills to prepare for spring football.
Each spoke to Miami broadcaster Joe Zagacki last week in a series of videos produced by the Hurricanes, and each is excited to be playing at home.
“I just really wanted to help the city out,” said 6-6 ½, 225-pound Rousseau, a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, which rated him as the 15th best player in the country; and a three-star by 247Sports and ESPN. “The coaching staff is great. I wanted to build something, and not be one of those people who go out of state.
“I really wanted to build a legacy here.”
Rousseau played on both sides of the ball and helped lead Champagnat to a 9-2 record and its second Class 2A state title in school history. He had 80 tackles and 10 sacks this past season, including three sacks in the title game. And as a junior, he earned second-team All-State honors as a wide receiver, catching 28 passes for 467 yards and nine touchdowns.
“How important was the tradition here?’’ Zagacki asked Rousseau.
“Really important,’’ answered Rousseau, who said he wants to bring the Canes “back to national championship status.’’
Rousseau said he likes “being aggressive” and helping his defensive backs get interceptions.
He also likes being taught by one of the top defensive line coaches in the nation in Craig Kuligowski.
“He’s a great guy,” said Rousseau, who chose UM over offers from Georgia, LSU, Oregon and USC, among others. “He’s sent a whole bunch of people to the NFL. I just can’t wait to work with him.”
The best part about being recruited by UM?
“They treated me like family from the start’’ and “they showed that they love me.”
Frierson, Gore’s 6-1, 186-pound cousin, told Zagacki, “It’s great knowing my family is behind me, my neighborhood is behind me, my school is behind me. It’s major.
“Growing up watching my cousin Frank Gore play here, that motivated me.”
Frierson, rated four stars by every major recruiting site, also played on both sides of the ball, closed out his career, according to UM, with 38 solo tackles, four interceptions, three kickoff return touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns.
Frierson said the best part of his UM recruiting experience was “the bond we created along the way. I had been committed for two years, so the bond that we grew made me want to come here more and more and more every time I got around the facility.”
Frierson chose UM over offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU.
“Gilbert plays at a high level of urgency,” UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “He’s very competitive, knows what it takes to succeed.
“He has locked down some great players.”
As for 6-1, 175-pound cornerback Ivey, he could have gone to Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina, but no way was he leaving his hometown.
“It was very important for me, because I’m from here,” he told Zagazki. “I want to represent where I was from. We’re trying to bring it back. … And of course my mom, she’ll be able to come to most of my games.”
Ivey was asked about his six picks for South Dade last season, and how he nabbed interceptions in four consecutive games.
“Gotta get that chain,” he said, referring to UM’s high-profile turnover chain. “It helps us want to make turnovers, so we can actually put on the chain, rock it and show everybody what it’s about. I just can’t wait to have it on.”