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Beyond The U: Jonathan Vilma

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Jon Vilma a great Cane and a great dude

Rutgers v Miami Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

At The U

Jon Vilma signed a scholarship to Miami in 2000 a the peak of the #Canes comeback run that spanned 1998-2003 before the LSU collapse. The Coral Gables HS alum picked up 39 tackles as a reserve linebacker on Miami’s Sugar Bowl winning team.

Vilma, a 2001 national champion for our Hurricanes, was the starting linebacker that had the tough task of replacing Dan Morgan at Mike Linebacker. Jon did an admirable job. Vilma collected 377 career tackles at The U as a 3 year starter. Jon had two of the most famous tackles in Miami history against the Huskers in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

As a starter Vilma only lost 3 games over 3 years leading the most talented defenses in college football history. Jon Vilma wasn’t just a legendary player but was also named a three time All-Academic player in The Big East. He received a Bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Miami.

One of those tackles is below

Vilma’s UM Hall of Fame Video


Pro Career

At the Combine the 6-1 230lbs Vilma ran a 4.43 in the 40 yard dash, put up 23 reps on the 225 bench and had a vertical leap of 37 inches. Pretty insane stats for a linebacker at 230 pounds. Vilma was drafted by the Jets in the 1st round at #12 overall.

Vilma came to New York to be the Mike in a 4-3 defense. He wins NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2004 after starting 14 games and logging 77 tackles. In 2005 he made the Pro Bowl for the first time after starting 16 games and compiling 124 tackles. When Herm Edwards left for Kansas City Eric Mangini was hired and slowly switched the defense from the 4-3 Vima was perfect for to a 3-4. By 2007 they were in full 3-4 swing and Vilma isn’t a 3-4 linebacker. He blows his knee out and was traded to the Saints.

The switch to The Saints 4-3 resurrected Vilma’s career. He made the Pro bowl in 2009 and 2010. Drew Brees and Vilma led The Saints to an upset win over Peyton Manning and The Colts in Super Bowl XLIV (The 2009-2010 season). Vilma had seven tackles in the Super Bowl win which was played down in Miami at Sun Life Stadium which was a home field advantage for the man from Coral Gables.

Vilma retired after a 10 year career spanning the Jets and Saints. He totaled 3 Pro Bowls, 871 tackles, 10.5 sacks and a Super Bowl ring.


After Football

Vilma started working on the TV side of football for NBC and NBCSN’s coverage of Notre Dame football. He is in the UM Hall of Fame and The Saints Hall of Fame. Vilma accepted a role at ESPN as a college football commentator and studio analyst. He founded the Jonathan Vilma Foundation in 2010 to help Haiti recover from the earthquake.

Life after football