The 1987 Miami Hurricanes wide receivers room was filled with National Football League talent. As a matter of fact the top six receivers all played in the NFL, with Michael Irvin winning three Super Bowl Championships leading the pack. This group won two national titles (1987, 1989) and parts of the crew played for two more in 1985 and 1986. The 1987 roster was littered with Hurricane greats outside of this position group as well, names like Steve Walsh, Danny Stubbs, Bennie Blades, and Bubba McDowell donned orange and green at the same time.
One of the most ‘Hurricane’ of Hurricanes, Michael “Playmaker” Irvin came to Miami as an undersized kid looking to make a name for himself. Never the biggest or the fastest, Irvin out worked others around him to set records both as a freshman and a junior before entering the NFL Draft. Irvin set the tone and was a catalyst for one of Miami’s greatest comebacks in program history- the 1987 rivalry match-up against Florida State. Down 19-3 in the third quarter against the ‘Noles, Miami’s quest for perfection seemed lost. Per the “Decade of Dominance” magazine released by the Sun-Sentinel back in 1993, Deion Sanders even said to Michael Irvin, “Michael, you might as well quit running and blocking so hard ‘cause it’s all over for today.” Irvin’s response was prophetic, “Oh no, a Hurricane never quits” (pg 19).
Irvin finished his three year career at Miami with 2,423 receiving yards and 26 touchdown catches. He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 draft to the Dallas Cowboys and won Super Bowls in 1992, 1993, and 1995 before being inducted into the Miami Hurricanes and Pro Football halls of fame.
Irvin was joined by longtime NFL wide receiver Brian Blades. Brian Blades was a four year letter winner in Coral Gables and finished his career with 1,493 yards and 15 touchdowns averaging an astounding 18.7 yards per catch over his career. Blades was a 2nd round pick of the Seattle Seahawks and caught 34 career touchdowns in the NFL. Brett Perriman, who also played at Miami from 1984-1987, caught 6 touchdowns and pulled in 1,073 receiving yards as a Hurricane. Perriman was drafted by the Saints in the 2nd round of the 1988 NFL Draft and caught 30 touchdowns in the NFL.
The backups weren’t better than the starters (Solid Verbal cliches aside) but two were pivotal in winning the 1989 national title over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Dale Dawkins played for Miami from 1987-1989 and caught 11 touchdowns while totaling 1,341 receiving yards over his three years in Coral Gables. Dawkins was drafted in the 9th round of the 1990 NFL Draft to the New York Jets and hung around four years in the league.
Andre Brown played for UM from 1985-1988 with his breakout campaign coming in the ‘88 season. Brown caught 8 of his 11 touchdowns in ‘88 and hauled in 787 total receiving yards while on campus. His NFL career spanned two years with the Miami Dolphins where he caught 5 touchdown passes.
The most intriguing of the backups from the 1987 team is Randal “The Thrill” Hill. Hill, who is now a customs agent and budding politician, was the epitome of brashness in Miami lore. The man changed his middle name to Thrill- enough said. Hill was an explosive kick returner in 1987 averaging 26.2 yards per return. By 1989 he became Miami legacy with his catch on 3rd and 43 yards to go as Miami was backed up against Notre Dame. Hill, as he tells the story, told quarterback Craig Erickson to throw it to him and he would come down with it. Hill came down with 11 touchdowns over his four year career and 1,643 yards receiving for the ‘Canes.
Hill had another infamous play in his time at Miami, catching a touchdown from Erickson off of a deep vertical route and returning to the field firing his imaginary six guns at the Longhorns. Hill, like Irvin, is a member of the Miami Hurricanes Hall of Fame. In the NFL, the undersized Hill was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 1st round of the 1991 draft but subsequently traded and managed to haul in 14 career touchdowns in his NFL career.