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Former Great Has Ties to Current Coaches

By Capt Rick Paolillo

Russell Maryland roams the sidelines before kickoff
Russell Maryland roams the sidelines before kickoff
Capt Rick Paolillo

Almost overlooked among the Homecoming festivities, the celebration of Kelly Tough and the ‘Canes blowout victory over North Carolina Saturday afternoon was the induction of two phenomenal former defensive tackles into Miami's prestigious Ring of Honor. Together they became only the 17th and 18th former players to achieve this distinction.

The University released a statement last week announcing the inductions and State of The U was one of the only media outlets to pick up the story. I won't bore you with the facts or wow you with the stats in this article. You can read the release detailing their illustrious careers HERE.

I understand that the University was trying to get the most out of Homecoming Weekend, but I can't help but feel a little disappointed for Russell Maryland and the family of the late Jerome Brown. They did receive a warm welcome from the fans in attendance, but were definitely overshadowed by another former Hurricane great, Jim Kelly and the Kelly Tough project.

My personal opinion is that they deserved their own halftime spotlight and a bigger ceremony. They should have been the sole headliners at another home game, particularly considering how much we fans and The U itself show so much pride in our rich football history. But, I don't do the scheduling, so all that aside, I know of two men on the Miami sideline that were delighted to see Russell Maryland on Saturday.

Current Hurricanes Linebackers Coach Hurlie Brown greeted Maryland with a big hug and an even bigger smile as the two met along the ‘Canes bench. They stopped to talk for a few minutes and it appeared Maryland even had a few words of encouragement for the ‘Canes young linebacker Darrion Owens. For those unaware, Brown and Maryland played together on the same defense for three years under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson, winning two National Championships along the way. Brown as a standout safety and Maryland as one of the most decorated defensive tackles in Miami history.

Russell Maryland, Hurlie Brown and Darrion Owens

Legendary 'Cane Russell Maryland, Linebackers Coach Hurlie Brown and Linebacker Darrion Owens chat before kickoff

As for the other current ‘Canes coach happy to reunite with Maryland, a little trivia: Who was the first-year Defensive Line Coach for the Green Bay Packers the one and only year Russell Maryland was a cheese head? If you guessed Jethro Franklin, congratulations! Jerry tell them what they've won...

That's right, Jethro Franklin, who was recruited to coach the defensive line at Temple by Al Golden before following him to Miami, spent eight years coaching defensive lines in the NFL including four years at Green Bay where he coached Maryland, Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson, Mario Williams, Vonnie Holliday and the man with one of the most unique names in the NFL, Kabeer-Gbaja-Biamila, aka KGB, currently of American Ninja Warrior fame.

Russell Maryland and Jethro Franklin

Russell Maryland and University of Miami Defensive Line Coach Jethro Franklin

Defensive tackles are not known to be the flashiest players on the field, with the possible exception of Warren Sapp, but when you've won two National Championships, were an All-American (twice), won the Outland Trophy (the first ‘Cane to do so), were the number 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, have been to the Pro Bowl and won three Super Bowl Rings, yeah you deserve to be honored with a big old celebration.

Thank you, Russell Maryland and Jerome Brown for choosing to represent The U and for your legendary contributions to the rich history of Miami Hurricanes Football. It was a privilege to watch you play the game.