Alonzo Highsmith Leaves Seahawks to Be Miami's GM of Football Operations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2022

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 22, 2019: Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith of the Cleveland Browns on the field prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 22, 2019 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Los Angeles won 20-13. (Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Alonzo Highsmith is returning to his alma mater to become the general manager of football operations at Miami.

"Alonzo is a true Miami Hurricane," head coach Mario Cristobal said in Thursday's announcement. "He understands the commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a champion on and off the field. His tremendous passion for the University of Miami and this city is unparalleled."

Canes Football @CanesFootball

Welcome home Alonzo Highsmith!<br><br>He joins the staff as our new general manager of football operations.<br><br>More: <a href="https://t.co/e1wdWUVZ3s">https://t.co/e1wdWUVZ3s</a> <a href="https://t.co/yU6Jj6EGqX">pic.twitter.com/yU6Jj6EGqX</a>

The school said Highsmith "will work directly with Cristobal to support all administrative functions of the football program, including budget-related items, culture building, program imaging and working directly with staff members both on and off the field."

Previously, he had worked within the front offices of the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and most recently the Seattle Seahawks, in addition to playing six years in the NFL.

As Cristobal noted, Highsmith is revered among Hurricanes fans.

The 57-year-old had 2,850 yards from scrimmage and 25 touchdowns in four years at Miami. He helped the program win a national championship in 1983 and usher in the era of "The U."

Cristobal's predecessor, Manny Diaz, did something similar with his staff when he hired Ed Reed as Miami's chief of staff in January 2020. Highsmith's executive experience creates a distinction between the two, however.

There's no question his return will excite the fanbase by playing on the nostalgia of the Hurricanes' most successful era. He's also uniquely equipped to both reestablish the culture that will separate Miami from its competitors.

More than anything, though, hiring a defined general manager is becoming more important with name, image and likeness legislation and the one-time transfer rule changing the college landscape.

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Seahawks executive Alonzo Highsmith is starting next week as football GM at his alma mater, Miami. Highsmith's going into a position more big-time programs are incorporating—with an exec-type having all-encompassing oversight.<br><br>Should make Mario Cristobal's job easier, too.

Josh Edwards @EdwardsCBS

Miami's hire of Alonzo Highsmith will probably fly under the radar but end up being an important de facto NFL GM role where he dabbles in personnel evaluation and 'salary cap' management.

Poaching Cristobal from Oregon was a coup for Miami, but recent history has shown the head coach alone can only do so much to return the program to prominence.

Bringing Highsmith back to Coral Gables, Florida, continues the wider moves the university has made to bring in the necessary infrastructure behind the scenes.