Smith & McNeil Inducted to UM Hall of Fame

Former Hurricanes Darrin Smith (1988-1993) and Ryan McNeil (1988-1993) were two of seven members inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame on Monday. Both players spent 12 years in the NFL.

Darrin Smith (Miami, Fla.) was a two-time All-American linebacker for the Hurricanes and co-defensive player of the Big East in 1991.

In 1991, he led the Canes with 126 tackles as they won their fourth national championship.

He was a second-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1993 and started during his rookie season finishing with 93 tackles. He also won a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys.

During his induction speech, Smith said he is "not a self-made man."

"I have had many, many people around me who have enouraged me, have loved me, and have supported me."

Darrin thanked his wife and best friend Kimberly as well as his mother who raised him and his three siblings after his father passed when he was three years old.

"Sometimes in life, we get so busy and we have so many daily hustles that sometimes we forget to thank the people that is the most important to you," Smith said.

"I want to thank all of the University of Miami coaches who coached me throughtout the years," Smith said. "When I first stepped out on this football field at Greentree, I decided to commit my career to a very special person in my life. And although I didn't know him very well he left a legacy on our family, and that was my father. So tonight I also want to commit this award to him."

Ryan McNeil (Fort Pierce, Fla.) was also a second-round draft pick in 1993 when the Detroit Lions chose him with the 33rd overall selection.

McNeil, who arrived at UM as a wide receiver, recoreded 31 career interceptions in the NFL after being a semi-finalist for the 1992 Jim Thorpe Award as an elite cornerback.

Like Smith, McNeil thanked a number of his family members in attendance.

In addition he thanked Jimmy Johnson who came to Fort Pierce on the advice of Butch Davis.

He also said that former UM defensive coordinator Sonny Lubick was one of the most important coaches he ever played for at any level.

"Every day he would ask me a question," Smith recalled. "He would ask, 'do you want to be a JAG?' For those who didn't know, JAG is 'just another guy'."

"I told him, 'no coach, I don't want to be just another guy'"

"Then practice like it," Lubick would respond.

Throughout his induction speech McNeil offered quotes that meant a lot to him. This one sums up the way he approached the game of football and the game of life.

"If what you did yesterday seems big, then you haven't done anything today."

Like many former Hurricane football players McNeil considers UM a "very special place that turns boys into men".

A story he remembers vividly while at UM is when an FSU player was asked why the Hurricanes had their number, the player responded, "the difference is we think we are going to win, they know they are going to win."

Note: Ray Lewis, Alex Cora, Leonard Hamilton, Amy Deem, and Ron Thorne were the other five inductees. All seven members of the Hall of Fame class were at the University of Miami in 1993.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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