Miami Hurricanes Football: Ranking the Top 50 Hurricanes in School History

Stephen UrbaniakCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2011

Miami Hurricanes Football: Ranking the Top 50 Hurricanes in School History

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    The University of Miami Hurricanes have been one of the most successful, and at some points, the most dominant program in college football history.  They are in the company of Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma for the most national championships in history.

    The 2001 team is widely considered to be the best team to ever take the field in college football.  They have set numerous NFL and college football records for the nation's longest home winning streak, number of players taken in the first round and longest winning streaks in the nation.

    They have had some pretty dominant coaches and players to come through Coral Gables, FL and the names could go on: Jimmy Johnson, Butch Davis, Dave Wannstedt and many more.

    There are so many players that have made a lasting impact on the program, there is not enough space in this slideshow to list them all.

    So here are 50 of the best people to call themselves Hurricanes, from one man's opinion:

1. Andre Johnson, WR

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    The man that all NFL receivers look up to.  Andre Johnson is the ideal combination of speed, size and strength.  He is the kind of receiver that can take over a game and dominate defensive backs.

    Johnson was a part of the 2001 squad that dominated college football from start to finish en route to helping the team capture their fifth national championship.

    He was a favorite target of Ken Dorsey, and he made his presence felt in wins against West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and also Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

    Johnson has the ability to make the tough catch and get tremendous yards.  He has the speed to just about outrun the entire defensive secondary.

    In three years with the Hurricanes, Johnson amassed 1,831 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches.  He is regarded as one of the most productive players in school history.

2. Clinton Portis, RB

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    Behind every great running game, there is a running back that makes it go.  For Miami, it was Clinton Portis.

    He was one player from the 1999 recruiting class who did not sit out the season, as 11 of his teammates had sat out for various reasons.

    Portis was a huge part of Miami's offensive attack as he provided a speedy, elusive change at running back that featured a stable of NFL-caliber backs including himself, Frank Gore and Willis McGahee. 

    After playing defensive back for the majority of his football career, he was given the chance to prove himself at running back when he came to Miami. 

    He was a powerful runner and also had the ability to hit the home run on any occasion, as he had a 82-yard touchdown run in 2000.

    Portis is currently without an NFL home, as many teams have shied away from him because of concerns of durability, and just how much he has left in the tank after being what some called overused and beaten up in Washington.

    Portis had said that the Redskins lacked "passion" since Joe Gibbs left, and he hasn't had any teams courting his services to date.

3. Kellen Winslow Jr., TE

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    The son of a Hall of Famer, Kellen Winslow II was one of the best tight ends to ever play at Miami.  He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball and commanded the respect of defenses everywhere.

    Winslow amassed 760 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in his career with the team.

    He was a key component in the Hurricanes offense in 2001 and 2002 when he provided a steady offensive presence in the team's run to the national championship.

    He was drafted in the 2004 draft by the Cleveland Browns and former college coach Butch Davis.  He has since been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has enjoyed some measure of resurrection of his career.

4. Edward Reed, S

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    One of the most gifted safeties of our time, Ed Reed has always had a nose for the ball.  When he was lurking in the Hurricanes secondary, he would always have a natural talent for tricking quarterbacks into mistakes.

    "At Miami, he was a multiple-sport athlete, and he excelled in such sports as the javelin, where he was a Big East conference champion."

    Reed is noted as the most dominant safety in the NFL, as he owns the league record for the longest interception return at 108 yards. 

    He is a defensive back that teams fear, and with good reason.  He has 55 career interceptions and doesn't look like he's slowing down even after hip surgery, when a lot of people thought he would retire. 

5. Edgerrin James, RB

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    The University of Miami has had the pedigree of producing star quarterbacks, but they have also had some dominant running backs come from "The U" as well.

    Brian Blades, Ottis Anderson, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee have all been names that most people think of.  Edgerrin James was no slouch either. 

    He left the Hurricanes as the school's second-ranked rusher and made an immediate impact in the NFL, as he climbed to the top of the Colts' all-time rushing list and was even a Super Bowl champion in 2006 before he left for the Arizona Cardinals.

    He announced his retirement from the game on July 11, 2011.

6. Reggie Wayne, WR

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    Ed Reed's roommate during their time at the University of Miami, Reggie Wayne was another stud to come from the Hurricanes program.

    "In four years, after playing with fellow dominant 'Canes WRs Andre Johnson and Santana Moss, Wayne joined only three players in school history to record 20+ touchdowns in a career."

    Wayne was selected in the 2001 draft to eventually replace the other star receiver of the Colts of the time, Marvin Harrison. 

7. Vince Wilfork, DT

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    It is often said that defense wins championships, and that you need a dominant defensive line to be able to implement and make any scheme worthwhile.

    Vince Wilfork is a huge body that can be a "space-eater" in just about any defensive formation.  He can rush the passer, and he is also athletic enough to make a play on the football.

    At Miami, Wilfork was a dominating presence on the Hurricanes defensive line and teams would underestimate his ability to get to the quarterback, so he would have a lot of single-team blocks from the offensive line.

    He was one of the most dominant defensive linemen since Warren Sapp was a part of the team.

8. Jonathon Vilma, LB

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    One of the most feared linebackers in school history, Jonathon Vilma was one of the most dominant linebackers at Miami since Ray Lewis.

    A fierce hitter with a nose for the football, Vilma was the example that all would try to copy when it came to playing middle linebacker. 

    Against Florida State, he had a heads-up play when the ball was fumbled by then-Seminoles QB Chris Rix, and no one except Vilma knew the ball was live, so he returned it for a touchdown.

    Vilma was drafted by the New York Jets and has since been traded to the New Orleans Saints, where he played a key role in the Saints capturing Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts.

9. Sean Taylor, S

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    Possibly the most celebrated safety in Hurricanes history, the late Sean Taylor was a force at free safety for the Hurricanes.

    One of the most feared hitters and also a menace in the secondary, Taylor would go for the knockout shot every play.  He followed in the footsteps of fellow Hurricanes safety Ed Reed as he was a thief in the defensive backfield and showed some of the ability to trick quarterbacks like Reed before him.

    He provided a steady, dominant force as the last line of defense for the Hurricanes, as he often would play in run support and had the range to make a play on the ball in the passing game.

10. Najeh Davenport, RB

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    One of the many great Hurricanes running backs, Davenport was in the same stable as future NFL All-Pro stars such as Willis McGahee, Frank Gore and Clinton Portis.

    In Miami, he was a key part of the 'Canes huge win against Penn State at Beaver Stadium in 2001 during their run to the national championship.

11. Gino Toretta, QB

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    Toretta followed in the long line of quarterbacks at Miami, hence why the Hurricanes have been named "Quarterback U."

    Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde and Toretta were the star signal-callers for the team during their run in the 1970s and 1980s.

    He was a national championship quarterback and a productive signal-caller during his time with the team.

12. Vinny Testaverde, QB

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    Another star quarterback for the Hurricanes, Testaverde was another Miami QB who had a productive collegiate career and went on to have a Hall of Fame-caliber career during his time in the NFL.

    He had stops in Tampa Bay, New York and Dallas among others. 

    Testaverde has since retired from football and will likely go into the Hall of Fame when he's eligible.

13. Michael Irvin, WR

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    Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin was one of the most dominant receivers to come out of Miami in recent memory.

    He is one of only four guys to record 20-plus touchdowns in school history.

    He went on to have a productive career with the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowl championships and setting himself apart as one of the most dominant, productive wide receivers in NFL history.

14. Matt Walters, DT

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    Involved in one of the greatest plays in Miami Hurricanes history, Matt Walters came in a long line of dominant defensive tackles to come from the Hurricanes.

    Walters had intercepted a pass in Miami's historic 2001 win against Boston College, only to be tackled and have teammate Ed Reed take the ball right out of his hands to race the remaining 80 yards for a touchdown.

15. Dwayne Johnson, DT

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    One of the celebrity names to come out of Miami, Johnson was a part of the 1991 national championship team and left school to pursue pro wrestling.

    Johnson ended up having a highly successful career in the WWF/WWE and also had a highly successful movie career, starring in movies such as The Scorpion King, Fast Five and Faster.

    A lot of fans won't remember Johnson, and some will even question why he's on this list.

16. Warren Sapp, DT

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    Probably the most dominant defensive tackle in Hurricanes history, Warren Sapp was another prototype defensive lineman that a lot of guys aspired to be.

    Having a highly successful career in the NFL, Sapp was a menace for the offensive line and a constant terror for quarterbacks.

    He should be another Hurricane-to-the-NFL product that should be in the Hall of Fame.

17. Ray Lewis, LB

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    The best middle linebacker in the history of the Hurricanes, Ray Lewis is what being a middle linebacker was all about.

    Lewis was the complete package of speed, strength and ball skills, as he was constantly game-planned against and was constantly in the quarterback's face.

    Since being drafted by the Ravens in 1996, Lewis has been considered one of the best linebackers of all time both in college and the NFL.

    "At 6'1 and 250 pounds, Lewis has made playing the position look easy and he has has amassed 1939 tackles in his career with 1477 of those being solo."

    Lewis will be remembered as the one of the greatest linebackers of all time.

18. William Joseph, DT

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    He was yet another defensive tackle that dominated opponents' offensive lines for the Hurricanes and will be yet another stellar NFL player that goes on to have a long, successful career in the NFL.

    Joseph was a part of the defense that dominated college football during the Hurricanes' run to the national championship in 2001.

19. Jerome Brown, DT

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    Jerome Brown will be most remembered for his role in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl national championship game against Penn State.

    Brown was a part of the Hurricanes' press conference that had walked out when Penn State arrived to the game.

    Brown was also a part of the defense of Jimmy Johnson that dominated college football in the 1980s. 

20. Bernie Kosar, QB

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    Another quarterback in the long line of Hurricanes to come from "Quarterback U," he was one of many Hurricanes who were national champions and Super Bowl champions as well.

    Kosar went on to the NFL, and didn't have as successful of a career as some of his counterparts from Coral Gables.

21. Ken Dorsey, QB

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    The leader of the Hurricanes offense in the 2000s, Dorsey was 38-2 as a starter and often enjoyed a full complement of weapons on offense.

    He played with stars such as Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee. 

    He was in constant command of the offense, as he led memorable wins against Florida State, Virginia Tech and Penn State and was one bad call away from being a back-to-back national champion.

    He has since quit playing football and is a pro scout for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

22. Willis McGahee, RB

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    Another in a long line of Hurricane running backs, McGahee was another strong part in the Hurricanes' run to the national championship and turned in one of the most productive careers in school history.

    In Miami's double-overtime loss in the 2003 national championship game, McGahee suffered a gruesome knee injury that saw him completely blow the major ligaments out after being tackled during a long run in the fourth quarter.

    He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round, and after being supplanted by Ray Rice in Baltimore, he was traded to the Denver Broncos.

23. Frank Gore, RB

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    Yet another stud running back to come from Miami, Frank Gore was injury-prone during his career as he had to deal with knee injuries which slightly hurt his stock going into the NFL.

    He has since been drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and has rebounded from being injury-prone to be one of the more productive running backs in the NFL.

24. Santana Moss, WR

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    Yet another star receiver to come out of Miami, Santana Moss is the example that most starting receivers and slot guys try to copy the most.

    Like Andre Johnson, Moss was a highly productive weapon during his time at Miami as he was a part of the dynamic Hurricanes offense in the 2000s.

    He was drafted by the Jets, and was traded to the Redskins for an aging Laveranues Coles. 

    The Redskins have surely gotten the better of that deal as Moss has been the team's No. 1 receiving threat and no one has arrived to challenge him in that time.

25. Antrel Rolle, CB/S

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    Another dominant Hurricanes defender, he turned into one of the better cover corners/safeties in the league.

    Rolle currently plays for the New York Giants and he is looking to make an impact in a Giants secondary recovering from injury.

26. Jeremy Shockey, TE

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    An All-American tight end, Shockey made an immediate impact when he was drafted by the New York Giants and provided a reliable target for Eli Manning and the offense.

    Shockey departed the team after his season-ending injury and was eventually traded to the New Orleans Saints where he won a Super Bowl title with the Saints.

    Often vocal and outspoken, Shockey was often criticized during his rocky tenure with the Giants as he and coach Tom Coughlin were often at odds.

27. Mike Rumph, CB

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    See Antrel Rolle.  Rumph was yet another dominant defensive player to come out of Miami, and he was regarded as one of the premier corners in the league.

    Rumph was also a part of the team in 2001 that dominated college football from start to finish.

28. Bryant McKinnie, OT

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    One of the most dominant offensive tackles of the time, McKinnie was a part of the team in 2001 that dominated college football.

    McKinnie was protecting Ken Dorsey's blind side and was productive after college too as he has been one of the better offensive linemen in the NFL.

29. Brandon Meriweather, S

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    One of the disappointing defensive backs in Miami history, Meriweather came after the record-setting Hurricanes teams in the 2000s as he was one of the few Miami players that was drafted in that time.

    Meriweather was a part of a declining Hurricanes defense at the close of the decade. 

    He was drafted by the New England Patriots and has since been traded to the Chicago Bears after disappointing in Bill Belichick's defense.

30. Glenn Sharpe, CB

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    The man a lot of people were feeling his pain for a long time. 

    Glenn Sharpe was the unfortunate soul to have "cost" Miami the 2003 national championship as he was called for the controversial pass interference on Ohio State's Chris Gamble in the picture above.

    He is on this list because he was a steady presence at cornerback during Miami's back-to-back national championship game runs.

31. D.J Williams, LB

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    DJ Williams was yet another Hurricanes linebacker who was dominant during his tenure with the team.

    He was a part of the dominant 2001 defense that only allowed just under 10 points per game.

32. Jim Kelly, QB

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    Jim Kelly was a part of the long list of quarterbacks that have come from "Quarterback U."

    When he jumped to the NFL, Kelly was a part of four Buffalo Bills teams that won four consecutive AFC championships but could not deliver in the Super Bowl.

33. Daniel Stubbs, DT

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    Yet another Hurricanes defensive lineman to come out of Miami.


34. Brian Blades, RB

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    Yet another successful Hurricanes running back to come out of Miami, setting the standard for guys such as Willis McGahee, Frank Gore and Clinton Portis.


35. Dan Morgan, LB

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    Another stud defender to come out of Miami, Dan Morgan followed in the tradition set by Ray Lewis and John Vilma.

    Morgan ended up playing for Carolina and New Orleans, and after a series of concussions and other injuries, he retired from football for the second and final time.

    He was remembered for helping the Panthers turn from the last-ranked defense into the second-ranked defense.

36. Jerome McDougle, LB

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37. Michael Barrow, LB

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    Michael Barrow set the standard for linebackers at Miami, and had a successful career with the Hurricanes and Giants.

    Barrow has since returned to Miami and is the linebackers coach on Al Golden's staff.

38. Cortez Kennedy, DT

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    Another dominant defensive lineman to come out of Miami and go on to have a Hall of Fame-worthy career in the NFL.

    He follows in the line of Warren Sapp, Vince Wilfork and Jerome Brown as dominant Hurricanes who played on the defensive line.

39. Devin Hester, WR

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    Devin Hester was another productive receiver for the Hurricanes, and he followed in the footsteps of Santana Moss and Andre Johnson.

    Hester is a dangerous punt returner, as he immediately made his mark in the NFL and he also has concentrated more on developing as a wide receiver during his time with the Chicago Bears.

40. Roscoe Parrish, WR

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41. Leonard Hankerson, WR

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    Hankerson is one of just four Hurricanes to have recorded 20 touchdowns or more in a career.

    He broke Michael Irvin's receiving yards record in 2010, and has since been drafted by the NFL's Washington Redskins.

    Hankerson was the favorite target of Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris and he was the top performer in a once-again resurgent group of Hurricanes' WRs.

42. Russell Maryland, DT

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    Yet another Hurricanes defensive lineman that had a Hall of Fame-worthy career in the NFL after moving on from the program.  He was a two-time national champion in college and he won three Super Bowls in the NFL.

    He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and was a dominant force in the Cowboys defensive line during their rise in the 1990s.

43. Ottis Anderson, RB

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    Yet another running back to come out of Miami and have a Hall of Fame-caliber career in the NFL.

44. Jarrett Payton, RB

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    The son of a legend, Jarrett Payton had large shoes to fill with his football pedigree.  Payton was another of the big-name Miami running backs to come into the NFL.

45. Travis Benjamin, WR

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    Yet another Miami receiver that has been highly productive as a receiver and a kick returner like Devin Hester and Roscoe Parrish before him.

    He will be a dominant force in the NFL, as he has the same skill set as Moss and Hester and makes it look easy each and every weekend.

46. Ray-Ray Armstrong, S

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    Yet another Hurricanes defensive back that will be a dominant force in the NFL.

    After serving a four-game suspension due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal, he has come back and hopefully will provide a steadying force for the Hurricanes this season.

    Armstrong is considered to be the best safety in the country.

47. Allen Bailey, DT

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    Yet another dominant Hurricanes defensive lineman like Warren Sapp, Vince Wilfork and William Joseph.  He was one of few bright spots on some lackluster Hurricanes defenses.

    Bailey has a specialty in rushing the passer and will be a project for the long-term, but he should follow the NFL pedigree of those that came before him.

48. Sinorice Moss, WR

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49. Brock Berlin, QB

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50. Lamar Miller, RB

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    Lamar Miller follows in a long line of Hurricanes running backs and only in his sophomore season, he has established himself as the best running back in the ACC.

    He has shown opponents that he will run over, around or through defenders as he is one reason why the Hurricanes have been in all of their games this season.

    Miller will be a starter when he goes to the NFL, like all the Hurricanes before him.