McKinnie's No. 78 retired

None of the 11 former University of Miami football players taken in the 2002 NFL draft have even come close to taking the field with their respective teams. But one has already been bestowed with perhaps the highest honor for any athlete. Former Hurricanes All-American offensive line Bryant McKinnie, who was the seventh overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings, in the draft had his No. 78 jersey retired by Lackawanna College in a ceremony held April 18.

After playing one season at Woodbury High School, McKinnie went onto Lackawanna College where he made the move from defense end to offensive lineman. It turned out to be the right move as McKinnie was a Northeast Football Conference All-Star and guided the team to a second consecutive conference championship in 1998.

As a freshman in 1997, McKinnie also helped Lackawanna to a conference title with a 9-2 finish. The squad made the Dixie Bowl and McKinnie played in the junior college All-Star game.

"If I couldn't get out of here then I couldn't have played at Miami," said McKinnie, who attended the NFL draft with a contingent of family and friends.

But before leaving for New York City, the 6-9, 335-pounder spent several days renewing acquaintances at Lackawanna and in the process has already promised to pledge a considerable amount of money that will fund a new weight room and locker room for the Falcons. McKinnie thanked the football coaches and school administrators for their guidance during the ceremony to retire his jersey.

"For him to help us and help players like himself down the road means a lot," said Lackawanna head coach Mark Duda. "Bryant is looked at very highly by all the players and coaches here and we wish him nothing but success in the pro ranks. He will do fine."

McKinnie selected attending UM despite being heavily pursued by Arkansas, Penn State, Iowa South Carolina and Syracuse. McKinnie went on to win the 2001 Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football. McKinnie finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting after receiving 26 first-place votes. He finished his career at UM without allowing a quarterback sack.

STILL BREAKING RECORDS

The 11 UM players selected in the 2002 NFL draft were the most for once school since 1994 when the draft went to seven rounds. The Hurricanes, who had five players taken in the first round this year, had 12 players chosen in the 1988 NFL draft which consisted of 12 rounds. The five players selected in the first-round tied a record established by USC in 1968.

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