Area 51

Area 51 is a secret military facility about 90 miles north of Las Vegas. The number refers to a 6-by-10-mile block of land, at the center of which is a large air base the government will not discuss. The facility and surrounding areas are also associated with UFO and conspiracy stories. The Miami Hurricanes have their own Area 51.

Area 51 is a secret player in the middle of the Miami Hurricane defense. The player wears the number 51 jersey and stares directly into the quarterback's eyes before each snap. He stands at six-feet tall and weighs in at 225 pounds. We are still trying to gather information about this specimen of a player who tracks down the opposition with such speed and ferocity. Much about Area 51 remains a mystery, but here's what we do know.

Mr. Jonathan Polynice Vilma is back as the Hurricanes' starting middle linebacker. He has led Miami in tackles the past two seasons including a career-high 133 tackles last season. Vilma is a Butkus Award candidate (given to the nation's top linebacker) and Nagurski Award candidate (given to the nation's top defensive player).

Like all defensive players, Jonathan Vilma is ready to hit someone for real. He's tired of hearing about the Fiesta Bowl last season and tired of waiting for the opener. The academic All-American begins his senior season on a quest. Nothing less than a National Championship would satisfy the former Coral Gables High School standout.

He has been bothered by a hamstring injury during fall practices. The coaching staff has been holding him out in most of the drills during practice and they remain cautious with him until he is fully healed.

"I am about 90% right now. There is no chance that I'll be out for the game against Louisiana Tech," said an emphatic Vilma.

He knows he's a leader on this team and that is okay with him.

"I consider myself a leader on this team along with Vince Wilfork, Derrick Crudup and Brock Berlin. Kellen Winslow is starting to step up along with Maurice Sikes."

Whenever this 225-pound linebacker finds time to play a game of billiards with Brock Berlin, he's up to the challenge. Berlin and Vilma have been known as the better billiards players on the team.

"It is a good bonding experience with Brock. We are always playing when we get time."

The Hurricanes' back seven (three linebackers and four defensive backs) will be one of the toughest in the country. All seven started a year ago while Vilma and linebacker D.J. Williams have started the last two years.

Mr. Vilma and the rest of the defense will get the show on the road August 28 at Louisiana Tech. When asked if he wants Louisiana Tech to start with the ball to begin the season, he responded,


A simple reply says so much.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at

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