When University of Miami greats Warren Sapp, Vince Wilfork, Russell Maryland and Andre Johnson gush separately about a Hurricane who graduated from high school less than a year ago, that’s “scary,” as Johnson said Saturday night during Miami’s victory against Clemson.
The player who impressed them: defensive end Rueben “Hurricane” Bain Jr.
“Andre Johnson called me during the Clemson game and said, ‘Remember I told you when he starts using his hands better he’s going to be unstoppable?’” former UM national champion cornerback Tolbert Bain told the Miami Herald of his cousin. “’He’s getting there — and he still has a lot to learn. That’s the scary part.’’’
After seven games of his freshman season, Bain, who has started the past five games at defensive end, is already generating national conversation. He was ridiculously dominant against Clemson, garnering eight tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 10 quarterback pressures as the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week and Rookie of the Week.
“I’m living a dream,’’ Bain, who grew up idolizing the Hurricanes, said Tuesday during a Zoom conference. “Every time I think about it, it just puts a smile on my face because that’s all I’ve wanted since I was 5.“
Pro Football Focus’ 89.4 overall defensive grade for Bain is No. 11 nationally among all defensive linemen with at least 100 snaps. Bain’s pass-rush grade? 90.1.
He’ll showcase his skills again Saturday when Miami (5-2, 1-2 ACC) hosts Virginia (2-5, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network) at Hard Rock Stadium.
Bain’s strip sack of Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik pumped up his fellow Canes in the first half and his 10-yard-loss sack on first down in Clemson’s initial overtime drive helped hold the Tigers to a field goal.
Bain also contributed to UM’s game-winning goal-line stand. He leads Miami with 4 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles, and has 19 tackles and five tackles for loss.
At Miami Central High, Bain won four state championships in four years and had 58 1/2 sacks his final two years, earning MaxPreps Florida Player of the Year in December. He grew up in Miami Gardens and his father, Rueben “Hurricane” Bain Sr., was a star offensive lineman for Carol City High and then Division II Morris Brown College in Atlanta. His older brother Reggie was an FAU starting offensive lineman and is currently a UM graduate assistant.
Bain’s mother, Lachande Thompson, posted on social media after the Clemson game: “My baby my baby my BAEBEE!!!!”
“I told his father and uncle, ‘He’ll be the greatest Bain out of all of us,’ and it’s already starting to come true,’’ Tolbert said Tuesday. “He’s still learning, so... Can’t even imagine.’’
UM coach Mario Cristobal and fellow players are running out of adjectives to describe Bain, who is refreshingly humble and boldly confident.
“He’s unique,’’ said Cristobal, who also called him a “bully’’ on Monday. “And he’s doing it with power.
“It’s not like he’s just a speed guy or a guy that comes in situationally. His play count is probably the highest on the defensive line. He’s been able to put high-end, veteran-like numbers as a true freshman doing the dirty work — jumping the A-gap ...and rushing the edge, taking on tight ends and tackles, and chip blocks. He’s been incredible.’’
Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry said Bain “manhandled’’ Clemson. “To be that young in a [Power]-5 game like that, being able to throw people around. Great power, strength, twitch.’’
On Tuesday, defensive tackle Leonard Taylor III said he’s never seen a freshman with better footwork than Bain’s.
“He’s just a complete dog.’’
One of Bain’s biggest joys is having stayed near his family in a community he clearly cherishes. After Saturday’s game, he and his mom and dad headed to Sonic (“Yeah, I’m a big Sonic guy,’’ he said) near Hard Rock, where they immediately were celebrated by Canes fans.
“I’m getting a lot of love,’’ he said. “I went out to grab something to eat real quick. I’m walking in and I could hear them saying, “’Oh, that’s Bain! That’s Bain!’ I took a couple pictures and everything like that.
“That was the main reason I stayed home, for the love of my community and to put this city back on the map. And just having the chance to feel the pride and the love from the community was something I always dreamed of and now I’m finally getting.’’
Bain said he’s really “a quiet dude’’ off the field. “But once I step my foot on the green it’s like I flip that switch and I’m a whole different person. I’m that dog Coach Cristobal wants me to be.’’
He said his teammates push him daily.
“We play as one, as a team,’’ Bain said. “All the stuff we do is collective, as a family, a brotherhood. We just feed off each other and everybody eats.’’
Cousin Tolbert just can’t wait until Saturday.
“I’m like a kid waking up on Christmas,’’ Tolbert said. “I’ll be waiting to see what he does.’’