The Top 100 Hurricanes, (#20-10)
When you think of the safety position at the University of Miami, these names immediately come to mind: Bennie Blades, Ed Reed, Fred Marion and Daryl Williams. Williams was a sleek ball-hawk with 4.4 speed, who in addition to his coverage skills could really lay the wood to opposing receivers in the secondary.
He would begin his career by being one of only three true freshman to earn playing time on the 89 championship squad along with Jesse Armstead and Bryan Fortay. By his sophomore year he was a full-time starter and named a second team sophomore All-American by the Football News.
In 91, he would take his game to another level, picking off three passes and leading the secondary with 84 tackles, including an incredible 18 against FSU in Wide Right I. For his stellar efforts he would be named consensus first team All-American and first team All-Big East.
It's hard to forget his accomplishments- although that's exactly what I did. Shame on me!!! I say he ranks anywhere between 23-27.
20- Leon Searcy (88-91): Searcy was one of the most highly touted offensive line recruits in the history of this program and he more than lived up to his advance billing.
Searcy would earn some early playing time in his freshman year before starting every game his last three seasons at UM. This guy was a bedrock at his right tackle spot, he was just as adept at pulling or dropping back in pass protection. In addition to his immense physical talent, big Leon was a smart and heady player who rarely made a mental mistake and he would start on two national title teams during his run at Miami (89 and 91).
He would continually improve throughout his Hurricane career and during his senior year he would earn first-team All-American honors from the Football Writers Association of America and second team by the Sporting News, The Football News and the Associated Press, in addition to being named first team All-Big East.
19- Clint Portis (99-01): Portis, is one of the most confident and cocky players ever to come through this program- that's saying something isn't it? And he backed up every single boast. The guy was a flat out player. And to think the Gators didn't want him as a running back.
Portis was as fluid as liquid, quick as a hiccup and fast as a cool breeze. He would become just the second true freshman to start at running back at UM since 1975. And in his first start against East Carolina he would carry the rock 27 times for 147 yards and a touchdown. It was the start of a great frosh campaign that saw him set the all-time freshman rushing mark with 838 yards and eight scores. For that effort he would be named to the Sporting News Freshman All-American team.
In 2000, he would be hampered by a broken foot, but before that his legs almost single-handedly bailed out the Canes in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. He would gain 91 yards rushing on just six carries and have one catch for 59 yards. And then in the 2001 Sugar Bowl he would come of the bench in place of James Jackson and key UM's second half running game with 94 second half rushing yards, including a decisive 35 yard scamper that help seal the deal in UM's 37-20 victory over Florida.
Last year he would lead the National Champions with 1,200 yards on the ground but it was his late game efforts, where he gained several key first downs against Boston College and Virginia Tech that had many believing that it was Portis who was our teams MVP. He would cap off his UM career with another 100-yard game, with a touchdown in the Rose Bowl against Nebraska.
In only three years, Portis would total 2,523 yards, good for fourth on the all-time rushing list.
18- Russell Maryland (87-90): 'the Conscience' as he was called for his dutiful ways, on and off the field, was a model of consistency inside. From an overweight prospect that was only offered a full ride by the likes of Illinois St., Maryland became a dominating inside force known for his tenacity and quickness.
Maryland, carried on the legacy started by Jerome Brown, of the dominant Miami defensive tackle. He was a vital member of some of the best defensive line units in NCAA history and for his career he would finish with 279 tackles, 25 tackles for losses and 20.5 sacks- good for tenth on the all-time list.
He would finish out his career at Miami in 90 by not only garnering All-American honors but becoming the first Outland Trophy winner from UM.
17- Ed Reed (98-01): Was one of the keys to the Cane renaissance of the late 90's. This St. Rose, Louisiana ballhawk was a four year starter during his run in Miami, where he was the captain of what was oftentimes an NFL caliber secondary and the emotional heartbeat of the Canes.
After a strong freshman campaign in 98, he would struggle a bit in 99, but in his last two seasons wearing the orange-and-green he was nothing short of sensational.
In both 00 and 01 he would be named first team All-American, in addition to All-Big East. And last season he was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and his nine picks was tied for second most in a season at Miami. For his efforts he was named co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Reed, wasn't the fastest player, but undoubtedly it's headiest. Nobody could play the game faster from a mental standpoint than him. Out of his 21 career INT's-which is tops at UM, five of them were taken back for touchdowns. In fact, his turnovers and block kicks led to 106 points for the Canes throughout his tenure.
But it was his takeaway from Matt Walters at BC last year-you do remember the 'Immaculate Deflection' right?- that was UM's signature play during their fifth national championship season.
16- Santana Moss (97-00): Moss, a former walk-on, was the very definition of the word, 'playmaker'. From any spot on the field, Moss was a threat to take it all the way. With his smallish stature and great speed and quickness, he was the football version of Allen Iverson. Acrobatic, gutty and tough, at times nobody could touch him.
He would leave UM, as it's all-time leader in receiving yardage with 2,546 yards, number one in all-purpose yards with 4,402, punt return yards with 1,196 and punt returns for touchdowns with six. It's hard to decide what he was better at, receiving or returning punts. He makes a strong argument for being the best all-purpose player ever at Miami.
Who can forget his big game against Ucla in 98, where he had 100-plus yards receiving and two scores, his circus catches against Ohio St and Penn St. the following year or his two touchdown performance against Virginia Tech in 2000.
He capped off his illustrious career in 2000 by being named a consensus All-American for his return skills and the Big East Offensive AND Special Teams Player of the Year- the only player ever to win both awards simultaneously.
Not bad I'd say for a track guy, who walked on.
15- Bryant McKinnie (00-01): They say that 'the Great Wall' is located in China. Uh, uh, I say it was located in South Florida the past two years in the form of McKinnie.
How dominant a blind-side protector was he? Not only did he not give up a sack in his two years at Miami, he's never given one up his whole life, period. At 6'9 and wingspan of a 747, McKinnie made sure Ken Dorsey never had to look over his shoulder while dropping back to pass.
His breakout performance would come against FSU in 00, as he would shutdown the Noles All-American defensive end, Jamal Reynolds, keying the Canes 27-24 win at the Orange Bowl. McKinnie in 01, would then shutout Syracuse sack-master Dwight Freeney in the Canes 59-0 thrashing of the Orangemen.
An All-American in both 00 and 01, McKinnie would also win the Outland Trophy his senior year on his way to helping the Canes to it's fifth national title.
14- Lester Williams (78-81): Even during it's down period UM has always been able to produce quality defensive lineman. Names like Eddie Edwards, Jim Burt, Don Latimer and Ted Hendricks are just some of the names that passed through Miami. Williams, continued that trend( which would only get stronger) and was one of the most important recruits in this programs history.
A Lou Saban recruit, Williams, was from 'the State of Miami' that Howard Schnellenberger coveted as his recruiting base. It was from this fertile ground through Broward and Dade county that Miami would lay the foundations for it's future championship teams.
Williams was a dynamic blend of power, strength and speed upfront for the Hurricanes. He would be named a consensus All-American in 1981 and the Parade Lineman of the Year. Williams still leads all Cane defensive tackles with 210 career tackles.
13- Alonzo Highsmith (83-86): Highsmith, is one of the most physically gifted players the Hurricanes have ever seen. Highsmith was the prototypical fullback that was equally effective at running, blocking and coming out of the backfield.
After getting some key playing time as a freshman on the 83 National Champions- including 50 yards rushing on 7 carries and one touchdown in the 84 Orange Bowl vs. Nebraska, Highsmith would flourish in 84 with 906 yards on the ground,good for ninth on the all-time seasonal list at UM. He would also lead the historic 86 team with 422 rushing yards.
His 1,914 career rushing yards ranks seventh and his 2,935 all-purpose yards ranks eigth on the all-time UM list. And if he just would have gotten the ball a few more times in the 87 Fiesta Bowl, Miami captures it's second title a year earlier.
12- Vinny Testaverde (82,84-86): Some might argue that he should be higher on the list, but his two bowl game implosions against Tennessee in the 86 Sugar Bowl and the 87 Fiesta Bowl versus Penn St., hurt his cause. In effect, those two losses, cost Miami two national titles.
But that isn't to blame Testaverde solely for those upsets or to ignore Vinny's vast accomplishments at UM throughout his collegiate career.
He was quite possibly the most physically gifted signal caller ever to play at what was 'QB U'. He had the size and the cannon arm that made scouts drool. After a strong 85 season where he led UM to wins at Oklahoma, Maryland and FSU and a 10-1 regular season, he would follow it up with a historic 86 campaign.
In a season in which he would win the Heisman Trophy, the O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Award, he led the Miami to a 11-0 record and a number one ranking coming into the Fiesta Bowl. For the season Testaverde.... In the season's biggest game against then- top ranked Oklahoma he would shred the Sooners with four touchdowns, on 21 of 28 passing with 261 yards. And who can ever forget his sideline-to-sideline scramble where he left exhausted and frustrated Sooners in his wake.
His 48 career touchdown tosses ranks tied for second in Hurricane history, he's ranked third in career passing yards with 6,058 yards and fourth in total career offense with 5,738.
Vinny lost just one regular season game in two seasons as Miami's starting quarterback. But if he only could have won just a game or two more, he'd be even higher.
11- Ken Dorsey (99- ): Well, where do we begin with this guy? There's so much to choose from and get this, he's not even done yet. Another Dorsey-like season and like 'the Jefferson's' he's moving on up- waaay up.
Let's start with his record as a starter, since taking over for an injured Kenny Kelly in late 99- his true freshman year- he has a record of 26-1, led the Canes to a number two and number one ranking the past two seasons. So far his career stats read like this: 58.7% passing percentage, 6,196 yards and 58 touchdowns to only 16 interceptions. He already ranks number one for his career touchdown passes and second for his passing yardage. And he also holds the record for most consecutive passes without an INT with 193.
Outside of two games( Washington, 2000 and BC in 2001), Dorsey has been near flawless and in it's in the big games where he really shines. He's 2-0 against FSU, 2-0 versus Virginia Tech and 1-0 with Florida. In fact in the two BCS bowl games he has started, he's won MVP honors.
In the 2001 Sugar Bowl against the Gators, he would hit on 22 of 40 throws for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Then in last years Rose Bowl he would win co-MVP honors with Andre Johnson by torching the Huskers for 22 of 35, 362 yards and three touchdowns. The national title of 2001 was just part of Dorsey's magical year. He would win the Maxwell Award, finish third in the Heisman Trophy voting and be named the co-Big East Player of the Year.
But if there's a seminal moment where we all knew Dorsey was something special, it had to be against FSU in 2000. The Canes had just given up a 17-0 halftime lead to the Noles and were trailing 24-20 with under two minutes to go. The Noles were threatening to take their winning streak against the Canes to an ungodly six.
But 'Kommader Ken' would calmy and cooly direct the Canes 73 yards down the field with strikes to Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne and then hit paydirt with Jeremy Shockey for the decisive points in UM's 27-24 win over the Noles. Dorsey stats would read 27-42, 328 yards and two touchdowns.
But with Dorsey it's more than the stats that tell the story. His calm, cool, confidence and leadership have helped put Miami back on the college football totem pole.
10- Dan Morgan (97-00): For four years, Morgan was a tackling machine who turned it up a notch during his senior year when he moved inside in place of the departed Nate Webster.
Did he ever, while leading the 11-1 Canes defensively, he would fill his trophy case by winning the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik Awards, in addition to being named the Big East Player of the Year and consensus first team All-American.
He would also break the mark of George Mira Jr. with his 532 career tackles. His rapid rise mirrors that of the program, scrappy underdog in 97 and a dominant force by 2000.
If Morgan is ever remembered for one game it has to be the FSU game of 2000. More than once Morgan would be knocked out of the game with various ailment but like a warrior, Morgan pressed on. He would tally 17 stops and one huge interception in the end zone right before the half.
His final play as a Hurricane was a late interception that thwarted a late Florida drive in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. It's appropriate, since very little ever got past Dan Morgan.