The University of Miami football program is one of the most supportive of its kind. Former players are there for each other and the kids who currently play, because they were in the same situation at one point in their life.
Players spend money out of their own pockets to make this program what it is. Greg Olsen, Jonothan Vilma, and even Mark Richt have made projects like the Carrol Soffer indoor practice facility a reality.
But where the real support lies is the U Network. The U Network is described as follows.
On Friday, April 20th, The U Network hosted their annual luncheon and networking event, aimed at former and current players looking for their next chapter in life, and companies looking for skilled, hardworking employees to join their ‘team,’ as football and life are both team sports.
“Everyone’s career ends sometime,” said Richt, “even if you played in the NFL. If you play even five years [in the NFL] you beat the odds.”
No matter how long or even if someone makes it in the league, Richt acknowledges that some men have built in advantages.
In all walks of life-- including football— “some people don’t necessarily need the help, they may have contacts, they may grow up in a family business where it’s kind of set for them.”
“But,” Richt said, “there’s a lot of guys where it’s not really set for them. They’re trying to change from being so focused on football and trying to become great at one thing, that it’s like ‘what do I do next’ [after football].”
Richt knows what it’s like to be a post-football journeyman. After his time at Miami ended and he failed to make an NFL roster, “what’s next” was a legitimate question for the once-decorated quarterback.
“I did a bunch of things,” Richt said. Some of those things were: “Life insurance, sales at a health club, valeting cars, bartending, even a little high school coaching.” Richt mentions that he was 28 years old when he first landed a full-time job, which was an assistant coaching position at East Carolina University, “It takes awhile to find your niche sometimes,” the coach adds.
In addition to helping players find work after football, The U Network can help a former player change their career path mid-life if the individual feels as though that is the right move to take.
Kenny Calhoun is widely known as the defensive player who deflected away the pass on the two-point conversion play in the 1984 Orange Bowl that gave the Miami Hurricanes their first-ever football national championship.
But what fans may not know about him is his life post Cane football.
“I was fortunate enough to have a career in law enforcement,” said Calhoun, who worked in that field for more than 28 years— until recently. “I was able to transition as a result of coach Richt and Katherine’s vision for The U Network.”
Calhoun found his future in Lennar, a home construction company. Lennar was one of several companies present at the networking session, along with Compass Real Estate, Plumbers 911, BB&T, Carnival Cruise Lines, Coral Gables Police Department, and Turnberry Hospitality.
Breakout sessions with each of these employers provided participants an opportunity to network and build relationships. Current players Malik Rosier, Darrell Langham, Bar Milo, Jhavante Dean, Tyrone Grey, Demetrius Jackson, Michael Jackson, Jaquan Johnson, and several others attended the event and networking sessions.
Each year a new class of players exit the program to move onto their next move in life—wheter or not it’s in football. However, the bond of Miami Hurricanes football bonds these men forever, and Canes support Canes through The U Network.