Hurricane Elite: FB

With the success the University of Miami has had at offensive positions like quarterback, running back and wide receiver the play at fullback often gets overlooked. Miami has produced some quality fullbacks over the years that have been both productive and versatile in the offensive scheme.

5 - Nick Williams (95-98): It's really too bad that a lack of depth kept Williams from red-shirting as a true freshman in 1995 after being a part of Butch Davis' first recruiting class.

For the first three years at UM, Williams was just a spot player at best. But he seemed to really put things together for his senior year in 1998, leading the way for Edgerrin James' huge junior campaign. Williams, was a strong lead blocker, who also had surprisingly quick feet for a big man and soft hands out of the backfield.

In many respects, Williams is the prototypical fullback in Miami's current system. In fact, it could be argued that his departure has never really been filled to this day.

4 - Najeh Davenport (98-01): If Davenport doesn't injury his knee late in the season opener in 1999 against Ohio State, he probably never moves to the much less glamorous position of fullback.

But his injury opened the door for guys like Clinton Portis to make their mark and soon, with a cadre of talented runners, Davenport unselfishly moved over to the fullback position. Davenport could have started as the marquee running back on 90-percent of the programs across the country, but in 2001 he was the starting fullback on the national champions. Doing the unheralded dirty work, while others got the glory.

Davenport was a strong, bull-like runner with good hands. But his strongest trait was his unselfishness.

3 - Donnell Bennett (91-93): Ok, I'm cheating just a bit here, Bennett was never a fullback in Dennis Erickson's offense- which didn't feature on- but for all intents and purposes, that's what he was. Which was confirmed when he had a long productive career with the Kansas City Chiefs as a fullback.

Nicknamed 'the D-Train' Bennett was a bruising runner who ran hard between the two tackles. Who can ever forget his long run in Boulder against the Colorado Buffaloes after running through a CU defender. Bennett wasn't about finesse, he was a sledgehammer that kept coming over and over again.

Bennett would lead the '92 team with 437 yards and finished second the following year with 594 yards while splitting carries with talented mates like Danyell Ferguson, Larry Jones and James Stewart.

2 - Cleveland Gary (86-88): This talented transfer from Georgia probably had the softest hands of any Miami back. For the first couple of years at Miami he was a supporting player to the likes of Bratton and Highsmith, but when he finally got his shot in '88, he shined.

He led the team with 57 catches and his 480 yards on the ground also led the Canes.

Also, who can forget his three touchdowns against Michigan in the Canes heart-stopping 31-30 comeback win at Ann Arbor. His last score would bring Miami to within 30-28 but it was his big run off a draw that put Miami in position to kick the winning field goal.

1 - Alonzo Highsmith (83-86): If there was ever a prototypical fullback, it's this guy. He had a body of a Greek god and was as tough as two dollar steak. He was so good that he was drafted as the third overall player selected in the 1897 NFL Draft, which is unusually high for a player at his position.

It says here that if he gets the ball just three more times in the '87 Fiesta Bowl, Miami beats Penn St. In that game Highsmith totaled 118 yards rushing on just 18 carries and caught three balls for 33 yards. By comparison, the Nittany Lions had just 109 yards of total offense. It was that dominant of a performance, which was unfortunately overshadowed by the upset loss.

But Highsmith did win a national title at UM three years earlier. As a freshman he would carry the rock for 50 yards and a touchdown in the Canes 31-30 upset win over Nebraska. From there, Highsmith would just get better and better, rushing for 906 yards in 84. And by the time he was done, his name was all over the Miami record book.

But numbers don't really tell the story, Highsmith played in a system that was predicated on throwing the ball. In many other systems, Highsmiths numbers would be even more impressive.

But if you saw Highsmith in the orange-and-green, you know you were looking at best fullback to ever come through Coral Gables.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Harris, Carlo Joseph, Speedy Neal

Steve Kim is a regular contributor to Canestime and runs his own website at MaxBoxing.com. For questions or comments, he can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com

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