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4 days to Miami Hurricanes Football: Top Canes to wear #4

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Who are the best Hurricanes to rock No. 4?

Miami v Houston
Devin Hester returns a punt vs. Houston.
Getty Images

Continuing our countdown, we arrive at 4 days until kickoff. While S Jaquan Johnson and WR Jeff Thomas are the current holders of the #4 legacy, we want to know: who are the most notable Canes to wear these digits? The Canes all-time roster is deep at No. 4, with a lot of talent but no clear cut standout.

Rodney Bellinger

Rodney Bellinger
UM Athletics Archive

Bellinger was a Miami guy born and raised, coming to the University of Miami from around the corner at Coral Gables High. In 1980, Coach Howard Schnellenberger brought the diminutive 5’8 Bellinger in to help solidify the Hurricanes defensive backfield.

Bellinger racked up 141 tackles and 5 picks starting 3 seasons for the Hurricanes. As a senior in 1983, Bellinger played a huge role in helping Miami to their first National Championship, taking down Nebraska 31-30 in a last second victory.

After his Miami career, Bellinger took his act to the NFL and the Buffalo Bills, becoming the Bills’ 3rd round pick in the 1984 NFL Draft. Bellinger lasted 3 years in the NFL, all with the Bills, starting 11 games and recording 4 interceptions.

Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh
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Walsh was recruited to Miami by Jimmy Johnson in the Class of 1985 as a top QB prospect from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Minnesota. After redshirting in 1985 and sitting behind Vinny Testaverde in 1986, Walsh led the Hurricanes to the 1987 National Championship over Oklahoma as a sophomore and put up 2,249 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. As a junior, Walsh finished 4th in the 1988 Heisman Trophy voting while recording 3,115 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

While Walsh initially decided to return to the Canes for his final year of eligibility, eventually, he would skip his senior season to enter the 1989 NFL Supplemental Draft, where he was drafted in the first round by Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys. In his 2 seasons as Miami’s starting QB, Walsh posted an overall record of 23–1.

Despite his college accomplishments, however, Walsh would find success harder to come by in the NFL. The Cowboys also drafted Troy Aikman in the actual 1989 NFL Draft and he ended up running away with Dallas’ QB job, even though Johnson preferred Walsh. The Cowboys traded Walsh to the New Orleans Saints in 1990, where he lasted one season as the starter before losing his job. Walsh then bounced around the league as a backup, including stints with the Chicago Bears, the St. Louis Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Indianapolis Colts, before retiring at the end of the 1999 season.

Also in 1999, he was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted into the University of Miami Football Ring of Honor. These days, Walsh is coaching in the CFL on the Toronto Argonauts’ staff, after previous stops as the head coach of Cardinal Newman High and IMG Academy.

Earl Little

ORANGE BOWL
Earl Little kneels before the 1995 Orange Bowl against Nebraska.
Getty Images

Earl Little was recruited to Miami by Dennis Erickson in the Class of 1993 out of North Miami High. After he spent his freshman season as a backup corner, Little became a key contributor as a sophomore on a Miami team that lost the National Championship to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl in 1994. Erickson left for the NFL after that season and was replaced by Butch Davis, and the Hurricanes were hit with heavy sanctions due to the “pay for play” scandal leftover from Erickson’s tenure. Little helped to steady the ship and was the leader in the secondary for the next 2 seasons, finishing his Miami career with 6 interceptions.

Little would go undrafted in the 1997 NFL Draft, but signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. After a couple seasons spent mostly on special teams and backup duty, Little found his niche in the league reuniting with Butch Davis on the Cleveland Browns. Davis moved Little to safety where Little excelled, making 52 starts total over 6 seasons with the Browns and nabbing 18 INT’s. Little spent his final year on the Green Bay Packers before retiring after the 2005 season.

Similar to Walsh, Little got into coaching in the South Florida area. He had stints as a defensive coordinator at Cypress Bay, Cooper City, Miami Central, and Miami Dr. Krop before being named the head coach at Westminister Christian and then Miami Jackson. Now, Little has teamed up with Butch Davis yet again, this time following Davis to FIU to become his new Director of Player Development for the 2017 season.

Devin Hester

Miami Hurricanes v North Carolina State Wolfpack
Hester returns the opening kickoff back for a TD against NC State in 2004.
Photo By Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Devin Hester was brought to Miami by Larry Coker in the Class of 2002 from Suncoast High in Riviera Beach, FL. Hester was a much ballyhooed recruit in high school, where he was known for his electrifying speed and was named a Parade All-American. At UM, he became the first player in Hurricanes history to contribute in all 3 phases of the game. Hester rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown and caught 10 passes for 196 yards on offense, as well as 28 tackles and 5 INT’s on defense, but was a star on special teams and was regarded as one of the best return men in NCAA history.

As a sophomore in 2004, Hester earned national recognition as a kick returner after being named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and The Sporting News. Hester would finish his Miami career with 6 total return TD’s, most in UM history, and a blocked field goal return TD.

Hester then moved on to the NFL and was drafted in the 2nd round by the Chicago Bears in the 2006 NFL Draft. Originally drafted as a cornerback, Hester later became a starter at wide receiver for the Bears, catching 255 passes for 3,311 yards and 16 TDs over his eleven-year NFL career.

However, like his time at Miami, Hester would become remembered for his prowess as a returner, exciting fans with exhilarating run-backs. Hester made 4 Pro Bowls as a return man and holds the NFL record for most all-time return touchdowns (19) and most all-time punt return touchdowns (14). He also was the first player to ever return the opening kick of the the Super Bowl back for a touchdown, done in Super Bowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to Chicago, Hester also played for the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks before retiring after the 2017 season.

Phillip Dorsett

Florida v Miami
Phillip Dorsett walks into the endzone for a TD against the Florida Gators in 2013.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dorsett was actually recruited to Miami by Randy Shannon out of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class of 2011. He stuck with his UM commitment even after Shannon was fired and played 4 seasons for Al Golden, becoming a dangerous deep threat at WR while also performing some return duties. Dorsett compiled 121 catches for 2,132 yards and 17 TD’s in his UM career.

The NFL took notice of Dorsett’s 4.3 speed and the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Along with T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, Dorsett is a part of a talented Colts receiving corps that is at All-Pro QB Andrew Luck’s disposal. Dorsett has recorded 7 starts, 51 catches for 753 yards, and 3 TD in 2 seasons of play for Indy, and will look to take the next step in his 3rd year in 2017.

Other Notables

Najeh Davenport: The big time fullback was the offensive captain of the 2001 Canes national championship team that defeated Nebraska for all the marbles. Davenport was an outstanding blocker, runner, and pass catcher that caused problems for a defense and helped lead the way for talented backs like Clinton Portis. He was drafted into the NFL in the 4th round of the 2002 draft by the Green Bay Packers, becoming their fullback for 4 seasons. Davenport also spent time on the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts before retiring after the 2008 season.

Glenn Sharpe: Sharpe had a tough career; he is known for adding the “yellow flag” to “5 Championships and a Yellow Flag”. As a true freshman, Sharpe famously “interfered” with Ohio State WR Chris Gamble in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl on the last play of the first OT, preventing the Hurricanes from completing back-to-back National Championships and undefeated seasons. He then proceeded to tear up his knee not once, but twice in the next few seasons, putting his career in jeopardy. Sharpe would rebound though, and ended up playing 6 seasons with the Canes, starting the 2006-07 seasons at cornerback. Sharpe went undrafted in the 2008 NFL Draft, but spent time on the practice squads of the New Orleans Saints (winning a Super Bowl), Atlanta Falcons, and Indianapolis Colts before retiring from the NFL without ever playing in a game in 2010. In 2012, Sharpe was arrested for murder after an altercation in Georgia; however, the charges were eventually dropped and Sharpe is currently a free man.

Poll

Who is the best #4 to play for the Canes?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Rodney Bellinger
    (2 votes)
  • 26%
    Steve Walsh
    (98 votes)
  • 0%
    Earl Little
    (3 votes)
  • 71%
    Devin Hester
    (267 votes)
  • 1%
    Phillip Dorsett
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
375 votes total Vote Now