Freshman Friday Welcomes Gilbert Frierson
Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes’ pass defense had moments of greatness reeling in what seemed like pick after pick in 2017. However, there were far too many times when the UM pass defense left us with our face in our palms wondering what just happened. Turnovers are great and especially thrilling with the arrival of the Turnover chain, but the truth of the matter is relying on turnovers isn’t always sustainable. One of the biggest struggles for the defense was getting off the field on third down, much of which was due to busted coverage or losing one-on-one battles on the outside. The Storm 18 class clearly had an emphasis on improving those areas with the arrival of several highly touted DB’s. Today, I will zoom in on one of those new additions to the DB crew and how he will help take this defense to new heights. He’s the cousin of the ageless Miami legend, future NFL Hall of Famer (if he ever retires) and newly minted Miami Dolphin, Frank Gore. On the third episode of Freshman Friday, its number 3, Gilbert Frierson.
Gilbert Frierson is a Miami Hurricane through and through. Growing up in Coral Gables, the early enrollee didn’t have to go far to land at his new home. At Coral Gables high school, Frierson lined up all over the secondary but mostly at safety. But at 6’1, about 195 pounds, he has the blueprint of the new age corner. I am not sure of the exact measurements of his wingspan, but just looking at him, it looks like he can scratch his ankles standing straight up. He’s a lengthy and rangy athlete. Usually with longer guys like this, the first step quickness can be lacking. However, I am extremely impressed with Gilbert’s burst out of his breaks. Once he breaks, he is a long strider who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. There were times when a QB thought he had a guy wide open, thinking there’s no way the safety gets there, and then there’s Gilbert like a bat out of hell flying in to make a play on the ball. He is a very natural catcher of the ball, as he also happened to be Coral Gables leading receiver in his senior campaign, averaging an insane 41.7 yards per catch. He is awfully comfortable with the ball in his hands in the open field. His highlight films are riddled with dazzling returns. Long story short, it doesn’t really matter where Frierson lines up. The guy is simply a playmaker.
Often times, the greatest strengths can also be the greatest weaknesses. With his longer frame, Gilbert plays a bit high at times, especially in his back pedal. I just don’t think that was something he was asked to do much in his high school career. As I mentioned, he was mostly lined up at Safety, and when he did line up at corner, he used the shuffle technique the majority of the time. He has the ability to be a lockdown cover corner who is able to bully wide outs at the line in press coverage, but it just isn’t something that we’ve seen him do much of at the high school level. With that being said, he showed he’s a quick learner as he turned heads playing cornerback with an outstanding showing in the spring. He ended the spring session hauling in a pick at the spring game, and the freshman was blessed by the Turnover Chain for the first time. Frierson did show a willingness to involve himself in the run game. When he decides to fill the alley, he is like a missile coming from the secondary. He is an above average tackler usually showing great form on contact. He’s no ankle biter. He also proved to be an effective blitzer off the edge, causing pressure on the QB. The possibilities are endless. Frierson is the kind of DB a coach dreams up. Manny Diaz will have no problem finding a way to utilize number 3’s abilities.
Frierson’s early enrollment proved to be valuable in his transition from safety to what looks to be full time corner. Frierson and fellow early enrollee corner DJ Ivey (Ivey Freshman Friday coming soon) almost immediately worked their way into the two deep roster. The depth chart is in their favor to make an impact in 2018. Jackson is obviously the number 1 corner while Muddy is the clear number 2. However, Bandy will be splitting his reps between outside and slot corner leaving space for a new face to emerge. Jahvonte Dean hasn’t seemed to take the next step that we’ve been waiting on considering his physical attributes. Frierson and Ivey will be battling it out to fill that role on the outside when Bandy slides into the slot. In my opinion, the two freshmen were about neck and neck after spring practice. Ivey seemed to be the more polished cover guy, but Frierson looked to be a slightly more explosive athlete. I personally couldn’t say who has the edge at this point. More will be revealed when fall camp begins.
Usually, it is a scary proposition to play true freshman cornerbacks holding down the back end of the defense. Not all freshman cornerbacks are Gilbert Frierson. He has the size, athletic ability and confidence to hold his own on an island from day one. Once he fully grasps the position and the defensive scheme, we might be looking at our next lockdown corner at the U. Mike Rumph has to be excited to have a new thoroughbred in his DB stable. Expect Frierson to see substantial playing time from the get go, and he quite possibly could work his way into a starting role. I truly believe Frierson will be one of the top freshman DB’s in the nation and could make a mean duo alongside Michael Jackson. Shout out to the Frank Gore bloodlines as the UM family tree continues to grow with its newest star Gilbert Frierson.