Miami Hurricanes Football

Miami Football: Power Ranking Hurricanes' 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

Miami Football: Power Ranking Hurricanes' 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era

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    Holder of multiple records at Miami, Willis McGahee was a top recruit in 2000, and that class was one of the school's best ever.
    Holder of multiple records at Miami, Willis McGahee was a top recruit in 2000, and that class was one of the school's best ever.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Miami Hurricanes were one of the best teams during the opening third of the 16-year BCS era, appearing in four BCS bowl games and winning a national championship.

    Much of that success is a direct result of stellar recruiting classes by Butch Davis, and those early units are clearly among the best at Miami since 1998.

    Of course, the Hurricanes' coaching staff put together the No. 1 group in 2008, but where does that class rank relative to Davis' and Larry Coker's impressive hauls?

    Or does it?

    Collegiate success is a main deciding factor, but professional accomplishments, including draft position, are taken into account as well.

    Note: Statistics courtesy of HurricaneSports.com and SportsReference.com.

5. 2006 Class

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    Javarris James wasn't a superstar, but he was productive.
    Javarris James wasn't a superstar, but he was productive.Doug Benc/Getty Images

    The 2006 class being the fifth-best unit exemplifies the struggles Miami has had recruiting since its dominance in the early 2000s.

    Javarris James ran for 2,162 yards—the seventh-most in school history—and scored 19 total touchdowns while with the Canes. He earned second-team Freshman All-American honors in 2006 before moving onto the NFL, where he scored six touchdowns with the Indianapolis Colts in 2010.

    Colin McCarthy earned all-conference recognition twice, and his 308 career tackles are just 19 shy of 10th in school history. McCarthy has appeared in 36 games, made 115 tackles and intercepted three passes with the Tennessee Titans.

    Sam Shields played three seasons at wide receiver, catching 75 passes for 971 yards and seven touchdowns before moving to cornerback. Shields was also named the team's Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008. After going undrafted, he made a game-sealing interception in the 2011 NFC Championship Game to send the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl, which the team eventually won.

    Offensive tackle Jason Fox was a finalist for both the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award, and started 47 games, which is the fourth-most by any Miami player.

    Matt Bosher handled all the kicking duties at Miami and held the school record by making 50 consecutive extra points in a season before current kicker Matt Goudis broke that mark in 2013. Bosher earned three All-ACC honors and was also the team MVP in 2008. A sixth-round pick, Bosher is currently the Atlanta Falcons' punter and placeholder.

    Note: LeSean McCoy, Orlando Franklin and Graig Cooper committed but did not qualify for this class.

4. 2003 Class

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    Devin Hester electrified Miami fans with his returning ability and overall versatility.
    Devin Hester electrified Miami fans with his returning ability and overall versatility.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    In 2003, Miami signed a top-rated class that produced at nearly every position on the field.

    Tight end Greg Olsen caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards and six touchdowns, earning a pair of All-ACC honors. Olsen was a first-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2007, and over seven seasons with Chicago and the Carolina Panthers he has caught 381 passes for 4,180 yards and 36 touchdowns.

    Speedster Devin Hester originally signed as part of the 2002 class, but he did not qualify and was officially a member of the 2003 class. Hester tallied six return touchdowns (three punts, two kickoffs, one blocked field goal) before setting the NFL record with 13 career scores on punt returns with the Chicago Bears.

    Tyrone Moss ran for 1,942 yards and 26 touchdowns, which is tied for the fifth-most at Miami, and he earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2006.

    Local linebacker Jon Beason amassed 187 total tackles during his four years in Miami, but his pro career is much more impressive. Beason was selected in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft and was elected to four Pro Bowls and a pair of All-Pro teams with the Carolina Panthers.

    Linebacker Tavares Gooden racked up 237 career tackles, including a 100-tackle season as a senior, and tight end Kevin Everett caught 32 career passes for 400 yards and five scores. Both players were selected in the third round of their respective drafts.

    Note: There was also a 5-star quarterback by the name of Kyle Wright in this class, but...ugh.

3. 2000 Class

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    Jonathan Vilma was one of the best linebackers in school history.
    Jonathan Vilma was one of the best linebackers in school history.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Sandwiched between two premier recruiting classes, the 2000 haul was top-heavy, showcasing five future first-round picks.

    Jonathan Vilma led the Hurricanes in tackles for three consecutive seasons, continuously smacking opponents and earning 377 stops at Miami. Vilma was chosen 12th overall in 2004 by the New York Jets and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has been named to three Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XLIV with the New Orleans Saints.

    Linebacker D.J. Williams was a key player alongside Vilma on a defense that allowed just 9.7 points per game in 2001. Williams was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round and spent nine successful seasons with the team.

    One of the best junior college transfers for Miami, Jeremy Shockey caught 10 touchdowns, including a game-winning score to beat rival Florida State in 2000. A first-round pick and Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, Shockey hauled in the go-ahead score for the Saints to win his second NFL title.

    Willis McGahee burst onto the scene in 2002, rushing for a school-record 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns while setting another record with 2,108 all-purpose yards. He finished fourth in the 2002 Heisman Trophy voting.

    McGahee holds 10 other school-best marks as well, and he was a first-round selection of the Buffalo Bills in 2003. Through 10 NFL seasons, McGahee has compiled 9,813 yards from scrimmage and 70 touchdowns.

    A starting defensive lineman on the 2001 championship team, Jerome McDougle was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Chris Myers was not a heralded prospect out of high school or college, but the center has been elected to two Pro Bowls with the Houston Texans.

2. 2001 Class

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    Sean Taylor had a bright NFL future but was murdered at his home in 2007.
    Sean Taylor had a bright NFL future but was murdered at his home in 2007.Matt Stroshane/Getty Images

    The overall amount of talent signed in the 2001 class is rather eye-opening, considering 11 players were drafted in the fourth round or higher.

    Roaming the safety position, the late, great Sean Taylor was perhaps one of the most entertaining players to ever don the orange and green. Taylor earned All-American status, was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and tied a single-season record with 10 interceptions.

    The Washington Redskins took Taylor fifth overall in 2004, and he made 244 tackles and snagged 12 picks before being murdered at his home in a robbery during the 2007 season.

    Famous for his "I'm a Soldier" rant (warning: NSFW), Kellen Winslow was a first-team All-American, won the 2003 John Mackey Award for best tight end and was a first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns. Winslow finished his college career with 119 catchesthe most by a tight end at Miami—1,265 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Vince Wilfork clogged the middle of the line over three seasons at Miami, amassing 148 tackles and 14 sacks. A first-round pick by the New England Patriots, Wilfork has added five Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams and a Super Bowl to his résumé.

    Defensive backs Antrel Rolle and Kelly Jennings earned first-team All-American honors in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and both players were selected in the first round of the NFL draft the following year.

    Roscoe Parrish racked up 2,514 all-purpose yards and 16 total scores, and the speedy slot receiver was a second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills.

    Future NFL star Frank Gore tallied 1,975 yards and 17 touchdowns, but his accomplishments with the San Francisco 49ers dwarf his collegiate stats. A pair of knee injuries hampered Gore at Miami, but he is a mere 33 rushing yards away from 10,000 in the NFL and has scored 70 total touchdowns.

    Junior college transfer Andrew Williams was credited with 68 tackles, eight sacks and a ridiculous 38 quarterback hits in two seasons, and he was a third-round pick in 2003.

    In the 2006 NFL draft, Rocky McIntosh was picked in the second round, Rashad Butler was taken in the third, and both Leon Williams and Orien Harris were selected in the fourth.

    Quadtrine Hill did the dirty work in the trenches, opening running lanes for Gore and other backs.

1. 1999 Class

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    Andre Johnson, Ken Dorsey and a national championship trophy. Any questions?
    Andre Johnson, Ken Dorsey and a national championship trophy. Any questions?Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Yeah, this group was not awful.

    In fact, a few years back, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated called it the ninth-best recruiting class in the history of the sport.

    Ken Dorsey, Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Bryant McKinnie, Vernon Carey and Phillip Buchanon were the gems of the class.

    Dorsey finished his Miami career with a 38-2 record, holding school and Big East Conference records with 9,565 passing yards, 86 touchdowns and 668 completions. Dorsey also earned the Maxwell Award, two Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors and a pair of top-five Heisman Trophy finishes in 2001 and 2002.

    At the time, Johnson was only the second receiver in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a season, and the first-team All-Big East honoree caught 88 passes for 1,777 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career. The third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, Johnson has been elected to seven Pro Bowls as a member of the Houston Texans.

    McKinnie, a JUCO transfer, did not allow a single sack while with the Hurricanes and even finished eighth in the 2001 Heisman voting. Carey ceded a few sacks but led the team with 42 pancake blocks in 2002. Both players were selected during the first round of their respective NFL drafts.

    Buchanon was a first-team All-American in 2001, and during his college career, the Fort Myers native knocked down 10 passes and scored five total touchdowns as a returner and cornerback. Later, he was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft.

    Jason Geathers, Kevin Beard, Jarrett Payton and Maurice Sikes may not have been stars, but each player occupied an important role.

    Geathers and Beard combined for 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns, while Payton ran for 985 yards and seven scores during his best season. Sikes earned first-team all-conference honors as a senior, racking up 68 tackles and three interceptions in 2002.

    The 1999 class was easily the best in Miami history, and it was certainly one of the best ever, too.

    Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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