Looking back through the years the number 86 has been worn by several players who embodied the toughness, competitive spirit and athleticism that has personified the Miami Hurricanes through the years. From the Hurricanes rise in the 80’s with players such as Glenn Dennison, and Derwin Jones. To the Dominant 90’s with Kevin Patrick, and today’s generation such as Herb Waters and David Njoku, all who donned the number 86 proudly game after game. Let’s look at the impact of #86 on the field.
Probably no player who wore number 86 signified the toughness and competitive spirit more than Kevin Patrick. Patrick came from Forest Hill High School in Lake Worth, FL, where he was a standout two-way football player at tight end and defensive end. When he got to Miami he focused only at the defensive end position and he made his coaches proud. He played sparingly as a freshman but burst onto the scene as a sophomore starting 9 games in 1991 as he wreaked havoc among opposing quarterbacks. His relentless motor and aggressive play helped Miami win its 4th National Championship.
During his remarkable Hurricane career, he recorded 23 sacks, fifth all-time in school history, along with 174 tackles. He was inducted into the Miami Hurricanes Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
David Njoku is currently the most recognizable player who has worn the number 86 today. Drafted as a first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, David quickly became a fan favorite for his on-field play and off-field personality. Njoku came to Miami out of Cedar Grove High School in New Jersey where he was a standout football player and track athlete.
During his freshman season, Njoku redshirted but quickly showed his enormous potential as the next great tight end from the program held as tight end U during his redshirt freshman season when he caught 21 passes for 362 yards and one touchdown. His 17.2 yards per catch was tops on the team and left the Hurricane nation salivating for more. In 2016, Njoku did not disappoint, earning All-ACC Honorable Mention catching 43 passes for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns. During the final game of the regular season against Duke, Njoku’s talent was on full display catching a 76-yard touchdown and a 58-yard touchdown propelling Miami to victory. He capped off his final season in the Russell Athletic Bowl producing five catches for 44 yards and a 23-yard touchdown.
While he may not have had the name recognition as Patrick or Njoku, Herb Waters donned the number 86 during his freshman and sophomore season before switching to number 6. Waters came to Miami as a three-star recruit out of Homestead High School. During his freshman season, Njoku played in all 12 games and started 2 ending the season with 10 receptions for 227 yards. Known for his dedication, leadership, and toughness, Waters became a constant dependable player on and off the field. He finished his 4-year career at Miami with 99 receptions for 1,534 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 2016 where he has been moved to corner.
“Tight end U”, who do you think about when those words are uttered? Names like Jeremy Shockey, Bubba Franks, Kellen Winslow, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham or the above-mentioned David Njoku comes to mind, but there is one player who is rarely mentioned, yet could be considered as the one who started the moniker that has become synonymous with the position of tight end at Miami. From 1981 to 1983, #86 Glenn Dennison played tight end under legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger. During his career, Dennison was a consistent reliable target for quarterback Jim Kelly. During his senior year, he helped Miami win its first National Title catching 54 passes for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 1984 NFL draft.
Derwin Jones played under Jimmy Johnson during the 1980’s and was an integral part of Miami’s aggressive defensive line. Jimmy Johnson was very complimentary of Jones’s toughness and play on the line. “Derwin is a very consistent player for us. Down after down, he is one of our better technique players, and he rarely missed any practice or playing time because of injury. He is a very good player and he is also a load for us up front because of his size (6-4, 268 pounds).” James was drafted in 1988 by the Seattle Seahawks.