Spectacular in 2004

Devin Hester had a spectacular sophomore season in 2004 scoring six touchdowns and recording a team-high four interceptions. For his efforts he was named on various all-American lists as a returner. He was the only player in the country to finish in the top 10 in punt returns and kickoff returns.

Devin Hester (Riviera Beach, Fla.) scored a touchdown four different ways: punt return, kickoff return, rushing, and returning a block punt. On defense he primarily played nickel back on a defense that finished ninth in the nation against the pass giving up 173 yards per game.

He had some of the best plays of the year on the team and here is his personal top five list:

1. 78-yard punt return TD with 8:11 left, down 31-27 vs. Louisville
2. 78-yard blocked FG return for TD vs. Florida, Peach Bowl
3. 100-yard kickoff return TD on opening kickoff vs. North Carolina State
4. Blocked 34-yard FG with 3:58 left, down 10-3 vs. Florida State
5. 92-yard punt return TD, school-record, vs. Louisiana Tech

The 2004 season came to an end for the Hurricanes with a 27-10 victory over Florida in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Hester was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game. In the game he recorded an interception and scored the game's first touchdown returning a blocked field goal 78 yards.

"It is a great honor because of all of the great players we have on our team," Hester said. "Just to win it is a great honor and I thank God for it."

At the beginning of the game Hester came out pumped up and ready to play. He returned the opening kickoff only 16 yards, but less than five minutes later he danced his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

"I saw the ball rolling under Brandon Meriweather's legs and he was bobbling it," Hester recalled. "I heard the boom and just looked around for the ball. I just picked it up and raced to the end zone."

Special teams were a big factor in the game for Miami as Roscoe Parrish returned a punt for a touchdown later in the game. It was Parrish's return, not Hester's that sucked the momentum out of the Gators.

"My return was too early in the game for it to take the energy away from them," Hester said. "After Roscoe returned that punt I felt their heads dropped a little bit. But we couldn't let up because anytime we let up, teams will come back. I just told everyone that we have to keep it up and have fun out there."

His energy that he brought with him onto the field to start the game stayed with him until his return.

"Yeah, my energy carried over," Hester said. "I wasn't able to return the opening kickoff so I felt I had to do it in another way."

Last year against Florida he returned the opening kickoff and he told people before the season he would return his first kickoff as a Hurricane. He almost did, but he didn't score a touchdown until his third kickoff, but it was his first in the Orange Bowl. Hester is often seen dancing around before kickoffs and sometimes waves to the kicker before the kickoff just to make sure he knows where he is.

"Anytime you get yourself so pumped up, you feel like Superman out there," Hester said. "That is what I try to do out there and motivate myself by saying ‘c'mon Devin you can do it.'"

The win against Florida was very important for the team morale heading into the off-season. Miami finished the season 9-3 and 2-0 against Florida and Florida State winning the Florida Cup. They hope to use the momentum heading into the 2005 season.

"Coming out with the win and winning the Florida Cup is great," Hester said. "Hopefully we will be looked at as one of the top ten teams in the country for next year and a chance to win the national championship."

Hester is the front-runner for the starting cornerback position opened up by the graduation of Antrel Rolle. Kelly Jennings will be back at the other starting position.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com.

Canes Time Top Stories