Famous Hurricanes to Wear #35
A wide receiver for Miami in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Darryl Spencer made an impact in multiple ways on the field. Spencer was a key cog for Miami during their 1991 championship run, totaling over 430 yards from scrimmage en route to a 13 yard per catch average. Spencer was utilized as an option to blow the top off a defense with his speed, and was given the ball in many different ways. Aside from catching the football, Spencer was a kick returner while in Coral Gables, and brought back 35 punts his freshman year.
A defensive back for Miami in the mid-2000s, Ponder was a highly-touted recruit out of Monsignor Pace High School. Ponder, who played in 11 games for Miami as a freshman in 2005, was a steady hand for the ‘Canes with 34 tackles as a sophomore. Ponder was a starter at safety, and even became the first non-quarterback at Miami to throw a touchdown pass in 4 years with a toss to Sam Shields against North Carolina.
The most notable #35 to wear the orange and green, Olivier Vernon has proved to be one of Miami’s most successful alumni in the NFL today. While Vernon’s Miami career will in part be remembered for his connection to the Nevin Shapiro scandal that resulted in a 6-game suspension, his on-field play spoke for itself. In his final full season as a sophomore, Vernon brought down 6 sacks off the edge, and added 10 and a half tackles for loss in 13 games. Vernon left to the NFL after his shortened junior season, and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins alongside Lamar Miller. In 2016, Vernon took the next step in his career as a free agent, signing an $85 million deal with the New York Giants to become the highest paid defensive end in NFL history. In his first season with the Giants, Vernon totaled a career-high 63 combined tackles en route to an 8 and a half sack season.
Current #35: Mike Smith
A local product out of Miami Northwestern High School, Smith played a key depth role for the Hurricanes as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. The 6-1 linebacker came down with his first career interception on the road at Appalachian State last year, and will move forward after another offseason under Manny Diaz’s scheme in 2017. Smith recently changed his number to #35 this offseason, after sporting the #57 in 2016.