Miami Hurricanes Football: The All-Time Dream Team

David MayerCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2012

Miami Hurricanes Football: The All-Time Dream Team

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    I honestly believe that no other college has produced the NFL talent that the Miami Hurricanes have over the last 30 years.

    Over that time span, Miami has won five national championships and produced multiple All-Americans.

    When creating the Hurricanes dream team, I didn't just go back to the last 30 years. Although the Hurricanes weren't the best program up until the '80s, they still had some terrific players.

    If we were to somehow put this team up against any other dream team, there is no doubt in my mind the Hurricanes would be victorious.

    So, without further delay, here is my all-time Hurricanes dream team.

Quarterback: Ken Dorsey (1999-2002)

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    No other quarterback in Hurricanes history has had a career like Ken Dorsey. He still owns Miami records for total offense (9,486 yards), touchdowns thrown (86) and passing yards (9,565).

    Not only did he have terrific stats, Dorsey was also a proven winner, ending his career at Miami with with a record of 38-2 as a starter.

    He also led the Hurricanes to two national championship games, winning one in 2001.

    Although there are other Hurricanes who were physically better quarterbacks than Dorsey, none of them had the leadership and drive that Dorsey had.

Running Back: Edgerrin James (1996-1998)

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    This was a hard decision, based solely on the fact that Ottis Anderson had a heck of a career at Miami.

    I still had to give the edge to Edgerrin James. While Anderson still holds the school records for rushing yards (3,331) and rushing attempts (691), James had similar stats in far less carries.

    James ended his career at Miami second in school history with 2,960 yards on just 474 carries (6.2 yards per carry). He also is second in Hurricanes history with 32 rushing touchdowns and tied for first with 14 games with 100-or-more yards.

    James also holds the top two highest single-game rushing records with 299 and 271.

    It is very hard to argue that James wasn't the best Hurricanes running back ever.

Fullback: Alonzo Highsmith (1983-1986)

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    One of the biggest no-brainers of this article was picking Alonzo Highsmith at the fullback position. Highsmith was an integral part of turning the football program from chumps to champs.

    The four-year letterman was a highly coveted defensive end prospect out of Columbus High in Miami, but Howard Schnellenberger wanted him at the fullback position.

    He would become a vocal leader, and some consider him one of the forefathers of old Hurricanes "swagger."

    Highsmith ended his career with 1,914 yards and 2,935 all-purpose yards, the 10th highest total for a Hurricane. He also scored 25 career touchdowns, tied for ninth place all-time at Miami.

    He was part of the 1983 national championship team.

Wide Receivers: Santana Moss (1997-2000) and Michael Irvin (1985-1987)

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    I chose Santana Moss and Michael Irving strictly on their statistics. With all the great Hurricanes wide receivers that have come through Miami, it is very hard to pick the best two.

    Moss ended his career with the most receiving yards in Miami history with 2,546. He also finished his career with 19 touchdowns, fifth of all time.

    Moss was such an explosive receiver, he ended his college career with 17.8 yards per catch.  He was very quick and elusive, and once he got into the open field, he was gone.

    Irvin finished his career first in school history in touchdown receptions (26), third in receptions yards (2,423) and tied for third in total receptions (143) with Moss.

    He was a superb athlete who could run routes better than almost any other Hurricane in history.  Irvin was strong with terrific hands, making him a nightmare for almost every cornerback in the country.

Tight End: Kellen Winslow (2001-2003)

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    Kellen Winslow came into Miami and immediately made a statement with hard-hitting plays on the kickoff team. He saw limited time during his freshman season, as he was stuck behind another Hurricane superstar, Jeremy Shockey.

    After Miami won the 2001 BCS National Championship, Shockey graduated, allowing Winslow to snag the starting position.

    Winslow wouldn't disappoint, as by his junior season he would win the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football, catching 60 passes, second-most in school history.

    That wouldn't be the only honor he would receive, as he was voted a consensus first-team All-American by the Associated Press.

    He would finish his career with the Hurricanes after the 2003 season with 119 catches, the sixth-most in Miami history.

Tackles: Leon Searcy (1988-1991) and Bryant McKinnie (1999-2001)

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    Leon Searcy was perhaps the greatest offensive tackle in school history. For a man his size (6'2", 340 pounds) he had an amazing first step, allowing him to take the defender anywhere he wanted to go.

    He would play five years at Miami, earning All-Big East honors as well as being named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America.

    Not far behind Searcy in dominance was Bryant McKinnie, from 1999 to 2001. McKinnie was a dominating man, standing at 6'8" and weighing in at 360 pounds.

    He would redshirt his freshman season but eventually become the starting tackle by his junior season.

    McKinnie was such a terrific lineman that he was voted a first-team All-American two years in a row (2000 and consensus in 2001).

    He would also go on to win the Outland Trophy, an award given to the best interior offensive lineman in the country.

    Need more proof of his dominance? McKinnie finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, in a position that hardly gets noticed.

Guards: Mike Sullivan (1986-1989) and Richard Mercier (1995-1999)

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    Mike Sullivan may not have been the best offensive lineman in Hurricanes history, but there is no doubt he was one of the most durable players, having started 48 straight games, a school record.

    He was twice named an honorable mention All-American and was a vital part of two Hurricanes national championships in 1987 and 1989.

    He was inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame in 2009.

    My other choice for a starting guard was Richard Mercier. Mercier would actually go on to tie Sullivan's durability record, having started in 48 straight games with the Hurricanes.

    In 1999, Mercier was named a first-team All-American by the Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly.

    Mercier was just inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame in 2012.

Center: Brett Romberg (1998-2002)

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    I understand if you guys disagree with this pick, as I am sure many of you would have picked Jim Otto, an NFL Hall of Famer, but I just couldn't get past how dominating Brett Romberg was.

    Romberg had an exceptional career that ended with him collecting the Dave Rimington Award, given to the best center in college football.

    He would also be named as a consensus All-American and a two-year first-team All-Big East pick.

    The greatest stat from Romberg's career was the fact that he never gave up a sack in all four years at Miami.

Defensive Ends: Ted Hendricks (1966-1968) and Danny Stubbs (1983-1988)

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    For those of you who don't know much about Ted Hendricks, the only stat I need to give you is that he was a three-time All-American. He made the first team in 1967 and 1968, while making the second team in 1966.

    That is pretty incredible when you think about how rare it is to even make the All-American team once in a career—doing it all three years he was at Miami is simply unbelievable.

    He would finish his college football career with 327 tackles (currently the 10th most in Miami history) and holds the Miami record for the most fumble recoveries with 12, four more than the next player.

    On the opposite side of Hendricks would be Danny Stubbs. 

    Stubbs was an absolute terror for any offensive lineman that was trying to guard him. He would end his Miami career with a record 39.5 sacks, which is still a Miami record.

    In 1987, Stubbs was named a first-team All-American and a finalist for the Outland and Lombardi trophies.

Defensive Tackles: Warren Sapp (1991-1994) and Russell Maryland (1986-1990)

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    Warren Sapp wasn't only the best defensive tackle the Hurricanes ever had, he was one of the best players to ever play at Miami.

    The consensus All-American was a complete terror against every offensive lineman he faced, and it showed when he ended up on the short list for the Heisman Trophy Award.

    Sapp ended his career at Miami by winning the Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player).

    On the other side of Sapp was another dominating force in Russell Maryland.

    Maryland had a tremendous career and became the first Miami Hurricane to win the Outland Trophy, an award given to the nation's best interior lineman.

    Maryland was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Outside Linebackers: Darrin Smith (1989-1992) and Dan Morgan (1997-2000)

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    For those of you unfamiliar with Darrin Smith, all you have to do is check the school's record book, and you will get an idea of how dominating he really was.

    Smith finished his career at Miami with 401 tackles, ranking him fifth in school history.

    The speedy two-time All-American was also a two-time Butkus Award finalist. He would end his career in 1992 after being named the Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year.

    Much like Smith, Dan Morgan's name is all over the school's record book. During his stay at Miami, Morgan accumulated 532 tackles; still the most in school history today.

    Morgan will go down as one of the most decorated players in college football history, as he was a two-time All-American, Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Dick Butkus Award winner, Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, and the winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award.

    In 2000, he became the first player in college football history to win the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik awards in the same season.

     

    Note: Morgan played three years at outside linebacker before moving to the middle in his senior season.

Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis (1993-1995)

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    I could honestly just leave this slide blank, because everyone knows that Ray Lewis wasn't just the best linebacker in Miami Hurricanes history, but one of the best linebackers to every play the game.

    Lewis was a dominating force, even as a true freshman, when he recorded 81 tackles while taking over the starting middle linebacker position for the remaining five games of the 1993 season.

    Lewis finished his career at Miami as a Butkus Award finalist, two-team All-Big East member and a first-team All-American.

    Lewis is still in the Hurricanes' record books with 388 tackles, sixth-most in Miami history. He was inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame in 2006.

Cornerbacks: Antrel Rolle (2001-2004) and Ryan McNeil (1988-1991)

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    There may have been some better cornerbacks to come out of Miami, but none of them were as good as Antrel Rolle in stopping the run.

    Rolle had a unique ability to not only be able to defend the pass, but come to the line and effectively stop the run.

    Rolle ended his career at Miami as a consensus first-team All-American, as well as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) and Bednarik Award (best defensive player).

    Ryan McNeil would start on the other side of Rolle when creating my dream team, and would be the cover guy on the opposing teams' best player.

    Much like Rolle, McNeil was a great cover-corner as well as a hard-hitting tackler.

    McNeil finished his career as a first-team All-American, back-to-back All-Big East member and a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.

    McNeil was just recently inducted into the Miami Hurricanes Hall of Fame in 2012.

Safeties: Sean Taylor (2001-2003) and Ed Reed (1998-2001)

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    As much as I know how good Bennie Blades was, he ended up third on my list. Sean Taylor and Ed Reed were just too dominating to overlook.

    First, Taylor was one of the most dominating safeties in college history. He ended his career at Miami with 14 interceptions (fifth in school history) for 306 yards (second) and three interceptions for touchdowns (second).

    Taylor was a very athletic and big (6'3", 225 pounds) safety who could cover and hit like a truck.

    The 2003 first-team All-American and Big East Defensive Player of the Year was my favorite Hurricane of all time—may he rest in peace.

    Reed, on the other hand, was statistically the greatest safety in school history.

    He is the school's leader in interceptions (21), interception return yards (389) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (4).

    Simply put, Reed was all over the field, all the time.

    Reed finished his career a two-time first-team All-American and one of the greatest safeties in college football history.

Kick and Punt Returner: Devin Hester (2003-2005)

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    Although Devin Hester never really panned out as a cornerback, what he was able to do on special teams was absolutely spectacular.

    Statistically, Hester wasn't even the best punt returner in school history, as that honor would go to Santana Moss, who owns the Miami records for punt return yards and touchdowns.

    The difference between the two was that Hester was just as dominate as a kick returner as he was a punt returner.

    Hester is still sixth in school history in kick return yards, and tied for first with two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

    Add Hester's four punt-return touchdowns in just 41 returns—Moss had six in 77 attempts—and it is clear-cut why I made my decision.

    Hester ended his career as a first-team All-American and a first-team All-ACC member in 2004.

Kicker: Carlos Huerta (1988-1991)

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    Much like Ray Lewis, Carlos Huerta was a no-brainer for the dream team. He finished at Miami as the all-time leader in points after touchdowns (178), field goals (73), points scored kicking (397) and total points scored (397).

    To this day, Huerta owns every single one of those records.

    Huerta was almost automatic in every sense of the word, setting an NCAA record by converting 157 straight PATs during his four years at Miami.

    In 1988, Huerta was a consensus first-team All-American and finished his career in 1991 as a first-team All-Big East member.

Punter: Jeff Feagles (1985-1987)

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    Jeff Feagles was never an All-American and had originally started as Miami's kicker before an eye condition forced him to the punter role.

    He took it in stride and became a tremendously valuable punter during the 1980s.

    Although Feagles never punted for distance, his impressively long hang-time limited teams' returns.

    During the 1987 season, Feagles averaged just 40 yards per punt; but thanks to his style of punting, only 12 of the 34 were returnable.

    Feagles was enshrined into the Miami Hall of Fame in 2008.

Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (1979-1983)

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    What is a football team without a head coach? While there have been several great coaches at Miami, none of them were as good as Howard Schnellenberger.

    Schnellenberger came to Miami in 1979 to try and turn around a program that was about to close its doors on college football.

    That isn't a matter of speech: Just a few years before Schnellenberger came to Miami, the university was about to shut down the football program. 

    It wasn't until Schnellenberger took the job that anyone noticed that players around the Miami area were leaving for more prestigious schools.

    He took that to heart and decided to get kids from Miami to stay home and play.

    With his recruiting style in full-effect, Schnellenberger turned Miami into a national powerhouse in just three short years.

    Finally, in 1983, he led the Miami Hurricanes to the first of five national championships.

    The following year, Schnellenberger decided to coach in the United States Football League, but the deal fell through and left him unemployed.

    To this day, I honestly believe that if Schnellenberger would have stayed with Miami, he would have won more national championships than any other coach in the history of college football.

     

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