After verbally committing to be a University of Miami Hurricane more than 18 months ago, Champagnat Catholic linebacker/defensive end Greg Rousseau made it official Wednesday at the school’s small Hialeah campus.
Rousseau, a 6-6, 235-pound athlete, signed and then put both hands together with the “U” sign and is headed to Coral Gables.
He put in countless hours of extra academic work over the past sixth months just so he could graduate early and get out on the field to help the Canes. He not only signed as part of a first-ever early signing day Wednesday, but he will now early-enroll at UM and be on the field for the Canes when they hit the field for Spring practice in April.
“It was tough and took a lot of sacrifice, a lot of online courses and stuff and frustrating at times but I was just really anxious to get on to the next chapter in my life,” said Rousseau who, in addition to regular classes, enrolled through Florida Virtual School online while getting up at 5 a.m. every morning to catch the TriRail from his Coconut Creek home to make it to school and practice. “I took seven classes, no short cuts, an hour train ride down and an hour back home. I really wanted to get this done.”
“We’re proud of all of our student/athletes today but especially Greg because he is the first ever Champagnat student to actually graduate early,” said Isabel Alonso, the Director of Operations at the school. “There were no short cuts with this. Greg worked so very hard to accomplish what he did and we’re so very proud of him.”
Rousseau attended a UM football camp in July, 2016 when he caught Marc Richt and the eyes of the rest of the UM coaches who offered him on the spot. Everything was only verbal during the entire process but Rousseau never wavered in his commitment to Miami.
“Miami was the school that showed me the most love from the very beginning and that’s where my heart always was,” said Rousseau who said the Canes are projecting him to be a classic ‘tweener’ playing both down as a defensive end and up as an outside linebacker. “A great program that’s really on the come-up and I think this is a place I’m going now that going to compete for national championships the next few years.”
Rousseau then cracked a smile and quipped “And I can’t wait to try and put that turnover chain on and see how it fits.”
“Greg’s a big-time player and a big-time person as well,” said Champagnat coach Dennis Marroquin. “He definitely has all the tools, big long, jumps high, a totally freakish athlete. He’s going to hit it big down in Coral Gables. I hate to lose him but I can’t wait to watch him at the next level.
Rousseau was one of four Lions at the signing ceremony Wednesday as he was joined by teammates cornerback Noah Pierre, who signed with Indiana, defensive end Kayode Oladele (Auburn) and linebacker Donovan Georges who will go play for Butch Davis at FIU.
A few miles down the road, the Carol City Chiefs were holding an early-signing ceremony of their own with four players signing their letters of intent and running back Cam’ron Davis was the headliner there.
After leading the Chiefs to a Class 6A state title a year ago as a junior, Davis had already committed to the University of Miami and never wavered throughout his senior year, finally signing on the dotted line. After giving it his signature, Davis looked up, smiled, and just like Rousseau, gave it the “U” sign with his hands.
“It’s all about loyalty and Miami was loyal to me the whole time so I needed to be loyal back,” said Davis who had originally committed to Oregon State before decommiting last year. “The Canes have really got it going down there now, it’s an exciting time and I’m anxious to become a part of it. I feel very blessed.”
“The thing about Cam, it’s not only his talent on the field but his ability to lead off the field as an example,” said Carol City coach Benedick Hyppolite. “He’s not only a ball player, a fighter and hard worker but somebody you could depend on each and every Friday night. He was definitely one of our warriors that we could lean on and now we’re happy to see him moving on to the next challenge in his life.”
Also taking advantage of the early-signing period were linebacker Kewon Parker (Northern Illinois), linebacker Yasir Abdullah (Louisville) and safety Randy Russell.
Russell provided the only suspense. With the resignation of Jim McElwain and all of the coaching upheaval in Gainesville, he had recently wavered on his original commitment to the University of Florida.
But in the end, Russell stuck to his original plan, donning his Gators cap and doing the Gator chop.
“It was a long process but at the end of the day, I just had to go with my heart and the Gators was where my heart was,” said Russell who confirmed that Louisville, UCF, USF and Georgia were all putting the full court press on him at the last minute. “But it was just a matter of wanting to stick with my original commitment. I feel relieved now that it’s over.”
Belen Jesuit: Javan Rice, Vanderbilt.
Booker T. Washington: Jermaine McMillian, UCF; Zahir Turner, FIU; Tyquan Thornton, Baylor.
Carol City: RB Camron Davis, Univeristy of Miami; S Randy Russell, Florida; LB Yasir Abdullah, Louisville; LB Kewon Parker, Northern Illinois.
Central: Robert Hicks, Louisville; Chandler Jones, Louisville; Hunter Goetz, Liberty; Dwayne Boyles, USF; Arthur Brathwaite, Western Kentucky; Terrell Perriman, Utah.
Coral Gables: Gilbert Frierson, University of Miami.
Columbus: Tyler Harrell, Louisville.
Northwestern: Davontae McCrae, N.C. State; James Cook, Georgia; Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell, Louisville; Divaad Wilson, Georgia
Demetrius Mayess Jr, UCF.
North Miami Beach: Kahric Belle, N.C. State.
Palmetto: Ivan Thomas, FIU; Shamar Munroe, FIU.
Southridge: Mark Pope, University of Miami; Daquris Wiggins, University of Miami; Delone Scaife, University of Miami; Randy Charlton, FIU; James Head, Indiana.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Al Blades Jr., University of Miami; Cole Caterbone, Army; Coleman Crozier, Navy; Grayson Crozier, Navy; Tavares Kelly, Virginia; Elijah Moore, Mississippi; Rocky Shelton, Duke; Trenell Troutman, Louisville; Jason Swann, Tulane; Demji Jean, Louisville.
American Heritage: Calvin Hart, N.C. State; Jack Fris, Lafayette; Matthew Whitney, Broward College (Baseball).
Carldinal Gibbons: Carlos Sandy, Illinois; Ron Hardge, Illinois; Marquis Williams, Pittsburgh; Maxwell Worship, Vanderbilt.
Coral Glades: Alfonzo Dixon, Fordham.
Deerfield Beach: Rosendo Louis, South Carolina; Ashatan Pierre, Kentucky; Jakari Norwood, Illinois; Daniel Barker, Illinois; Miguel Edwards, Oklahoma; Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State; Despelado Alexandre, Georgia State; Zack Simmons, N.C. State
Cypress Bay: Greg May, Air Force.
North Broward Prep: Kevin Austin, Notre Dame; Logan Shooster, Amherst.
Western: Teshaun Smith, N.C. State; Jordan Smith, Temple.