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45 days to Miami Hurricanes Football: Top Canes to Wear #45

Who are the best Hurricanes to rock No. 45?

Miami V San Diego State
Darrin Smith makes a tackle against San Diego State.
Getty Images

Continuing our countdown, we arrive at 45 days until kickoff. Although walk-on fullback Jack Pope is the current carrier of the #45 legacy, we want to know: who are the most notable Canes to wear these digits? When you’re looking at jersey numbers in the 40’s, you’re mostly seeing linebacker talent, and #45 is no exception. Our list includes a National Championship and Super Bowl winning Cane, along with a rare player that played at all 3 levels of South Florida football.

Darrin Smith

Darrin Smith (right) was part of the legendary linebacking corps at The U known as the “Bermuda Triangle”, which also included Jessie Armstead (left) and Michael Barrow (middle).

Darrin Smith began his football career starring for local Miami Norland High School, where he played linebacker and was also a standout on the track team.

He was then recruited to the University of Miami by Jimmy Johnson in 1988 and was redshirted that season, which was Johnson’s final year at UM. He then started three seasons at strongside linebacker, and along with Jessie Armstead and Michael Barrow he was part of “The Bermuda Triangle,” arguably one of the greatest linebacking corps in college football history.

Smith was a two-time first-team All-American linebacker for the Hurricanes, played on the 1989 and 1991 National Championship teams under Dennis Erickson, and was a Butkus Award finalist and a co-Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. He never recorded a home loss in his 5 seasons playing at the Orange Bowl.

Smith (59) barring down on Dan Marino.
Getty Images

After being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft, Smith rejoined forces with Jimmy Johnson and won two Super Bowl titles in Dallas. The Cowboys would replace him with Dexter Coakley before the 1997 season and Smith went on to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. Soon after, Smith again reunited with an old Miami coach, this time Dennis Erickson, on the Seattle Seahawks in 1998-99. He would finish his career with the New Orleans Saints from 2000-04, retiring from the NFL after 12 seasons due to injuries.

For all his accomplishments, Smith was recognized and inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Even after all these years, Smith is still connected to football: when the Miami Dolphins players or staff seek spiritual guidance or counseling, the former Miami Hurricanes’ star linebacker is available to lend a helping hand. He is beginning his fourth season as the team’s chaplain.

Twan Russell

Twan Russell
That Twan Russell fist pump.
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Russell was a hometown hero in the Miami area from Day 1, as he was one of only a few talents over the years to have an opportunity to compete at all 3 levels of South Florida football. After starring at St. Thomas Aquinas in high school, Russell was recruited by Dennis Erickson to the University of Miami. Russell would develop into a tough and rugged linebacker in his time at The U, where he was named a team captain and recorded 115 tackles (led the team) in his senior year of 1996.

Russell was then drafted in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He was mostly a backup linebacker and special-teamer in the NFL, recording only 4 starts in his career along with 31 tackles over 7 seasons. In 2000 though, Russell would make his way back to South Florida and sign with the Miami Dolphins, where he would play for 3 seasons, completing the South Florida Trifecta. He would also play for the Atlanta Falcons for a season before retiring from injury in November 2004.

After football, Russell became active in giving back to the community that had supported him his entire football career. He created the Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation, which serves more than 450 youths in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties annually. Russell also re-teamed with the Dolphins and serves as Director of the Miami Dolphins’ Youth and Community Programs. Always the South Florida boy, Russell still lives in SoFla, residing in Plantation, Florida, and coaches his sons’ youth football team, the Plantation Wildcats.

Other Notables

Ramon Buchanan: Buchanan was part of Miami’s famed 2008 recruiting class that failed to live up to expectations, but he got a tough draw after suffering season ending knee injuries early in his last 2 seasons at Miami. He made 18 starts over 5 seasons at linebacker for Randy Shannon and Al Golden, tallying 116 tackles and 14 TFL. Buchanan went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and ended up signing a UDFA deal with the Seattle Seahawks, but never made the active roster and his football career appears to be over.

Howard Clark: After sitting behind Dan Morgan his freshman season, Clark was the starter at weakside linebacker for Butch Davis in 2000 as a sophomore. The last 2 seasons of his career in 2001-02 were spent as a backup to future NFL-er DJ Williams, but he made memories getting reps and spot starts on some of the best teams college football has ever had to offer. Clark finished his Cane career with 12 starts and 132 tackles over 4 seasons.


Which #45 is the best to ever play for Miami?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Darrin Smith
    (142 votes)
  • 3%
    Twan Russell
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    (4 votes)
151 votes total Vote Now