Continuing our countdown, we arrive at 61 days until kickoff. Although walk-on longsnapper Jacob Munoz is the current carrier of the #61 legacy, we want to know: who are the most notable Canes to wear these digits? When you’re looking at jersey numbers in the 60’s, you’re mostly looking at offensive line talent, and #61 is no exception. There have been some solid O-Lineman to don the number, but none seem to quite measure up to everyone’s favorite voice of Miami, Don Bailey Jr.
Don Bailey Jr.
Bailey Jr. joined a Miami program that was on its last legs in 1979, with the program having been almost dropped by the university a few years prior. After hiring Howard Schnellenberger to bring some credibility to the program, Miami began its climb from laughingstock to yearly dynasty and Bailey Jr. was an integral part of that.
Bailey Jr. was a four-year letterman and center at Miami from 1979-1982, and was named team captain during his senior year. Bailey Jr. snapped to some serious quarterback talent in his time with the Hurricanes, including Miami and NFL legend Jim Kelly and current University of Miami head football coach Mark Richt.
Most notably, Bailey Jr.’s first start at center came at Penn State on November 3rd, 1979, when the Kelly-led Hurricanes upset the Nittany Lions 26-10. This was a game that Miami came into as huge underdogs and was later credited for launching Miami to the forefront of the college football landscape.
After his Miami career wrapped up, Bailey Jr. was selected in the 11th round by the Denver Broncos in the 1983 NFL Draft. He never played for the Broncos, but competed in 20 games for the Indianapolis Colts over 1984-1985 before retiring from football.
I wasn’t long until Bailey Jr. gravitated back towards South Florida though, taking over his father’s business “Don Bailey Flooring” in Miami. You may have seen their famous “Naked Man” erotica billboards, featuring Don Bailey Sr., dotting highways from Deerfield Beach to Miami.
Bailey Jr. is still connected with the program after all these years, as you’ve probably heard him call some of your favorite Canes games. He’s been the Hurricanes play-by-play announcer and color analyst since 1995 on 560 WQAM Sports Radio.
J Ina: The man with a total of 4 letters in his name started 2 seasons at right tackle for Butch Davis in 1995 and 1996.
Tony Tella: Started 2 seasons at left guard in 2004 and 2005 for Larry Coker. He spent his redshirt year on the famous 2001 Canes, the greatest college football team of all-time.
Joel Figueroa: A rare 6 year player, Figueroa made 16 starts at tackle and guard in his career that ended in 2011. Most interestingly, he played for 3 UM coaches in his time at Miami: Larry Coker, Randy Shannon, and Al Golden. He still plays football in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos.