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Hometown Heroes: The Miami Effect

Taking a look at how local Miami products will impact the game this year on both sides

Florida State v Miami
Mark Walton will not only be carrying The U on his shoulders on Saturday, but the whole city of Miami
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

For the past few years, it’s been Dalvin Cook. Hailing from Miami Central, he chose to go up north for his college days and ran over his hometown school each time they shared the same field. Historically, no other area has had a bigger impact on one of the most storied rivalries in college football than the city of Miami. Local guys Frank Gore, Andre Wadsworth, Santana Moss, Marvin Jones, Antrel Rolle, Devin Bush, Jonathan Vilma, and Devonta Freeman all left their mark in this game.

Gone are the days where the State of Miami was locked up and all the talent that had any business playing major college football went on to be Canes. Unfortunately, it has become somewhat of a norm for big-time Miami kids to attend Florida State as opposed to staying home and competing at The U. This norm is now being challenged though, and Mark Richt is at the forefront.

However, for this piece, we will focus on how the Miami products will impact the 2017 edition of Miami-FSU. Miami has 15 players on the roster from Miami, while Florida State has 7. The biggest Miami native for the Canes is Mark Walton while Florida State’s happens to be star LB Matthew Thomas. The two both attended Miami’s Booker T. Washington, separated by only two years in class. This match-up is not only a test of two men from the same ground, but also one of the more important match-ups of the game. Walton had a slow game last week (to his standards) against Duke, a combination of a sore ankle and the Blue Devils’ staunch run defense, but he will need to make plays in order for Miami to win. Matthew Thomas will be the first one called upon to stop that.

Local Canes Chad Thomas, Trajan Bandy, Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine, Demetrius Jackson, Mike Smith, Navaughn Donaldson, and Trevor Darling will also try to leave their mark on this personal rivalry.

In addition to Matthew Thomas, guys such as Frederick Jones and Emmett Rice will like to do the same as they face the team they grew up so close to.

No team quite has the Miami flavor that The U does, but if anyone else has come close, it has been FSU. Yet, Miami still boasts more than half the amount of Miami-born ballers and most are ready contributors to this team.

While the last few years has been dominated by the rushing prowess of Dalvin Cook, the Canes look to take the advantage back with sheer numbers in 2017.

This may be the year that the best Miami native on the field is with his hometown school. Mark Walton has a lot to prove on many levels, but maybe bigger than any other, he has his hometown to put on for.