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Greatest position rooms in ‘Canes history: 1991 Offensive Line

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The story of an NFL All-Pro, a group of national champs, Oregon’s head coach, and a doctor

Leon Searcy

The 1991 Miami Hurricanes finished the season 12-0 and National Champions after finishing 1st overall in the AP Poll, 2nd overall in the Coaches’ Poll. The ‘Canes fourth national title squad was led by Darrin Smith, Mike Barrow, and Gino Torretta as well as one of the best offensive lines put together in school history. The offense was only held under twenty points twice all season- against the FSU Seminoles and the Boston College Eagles in back to back grueling weeks.

Of all the big names and award winners on the 1991 roster, one of the most elite players was offensive tackle Leon Searcy.

The Starters

Leon Searcy was the blindside anchor of the Miami Hurricanes offensive line in 1991. Searcy, a Washington, D.C. native, redshirted at Miami for the 1987 season. Legendary offensive line coach Art Kehoe (I did a two part podcast interview with Coach Kehoe here) helped mold the young Searcy into a dominating starter on both the 1989 and 1991 national championship squads. After his five seasons in Coral Gables, Leon won three national titles and was on many first-team All-America lists in 1991. Searcy also made the All-BIG EAST team in the conference’s inaugural season of play.

Leon went on to be drafted 11th overall in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Pittsburg Steelers. As a member of the Steelers, Searcy played in Super Bowl XXX against former teammates Kevin Williams, Michael Irvin, and Darrin Smith. Leon finished his career playing in Jacksonville, Baltimore and Miami before turning to coaching in 2004. Leon was a member of the FIU coaching staff from 2004-2006 working with the offensive line. Searcy is a member of the Miami Hurricanes Hall of Fame.

Rudy Barber, Jr. played offensive line at Miami from 1990-1993. Barber, the son of former AFL linebacker Rudy Barber, Sr, came to Miami from nearby Carol City High School around the corner from Hard Rock Stadium. Barber, Jr. was a redshirt lineman on the 1989 team and lettered for the 1991 national championship squad as a starting guard. After college, Barber went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers for a short stint in the NFL. His brother Kantroy played for the New England Patriots, Panthers, and Dolphins.

The center on the 1991 team was Kelvin Harris. Harris, like Searcy, redshirted for the 1987 national championship season. Harris lettered from 1989-1991, winning three national titles as a Hurricane.

The right guard on the 1991 team was Claude Jones. Jones was also a redshirt on the 1987 national championship team and lettered from 1989-1991. That makes Jones another three-time national championship member of the 1991 offensive line. Jones signed as a free agent with the New York Jets after his time in Coral Gables but was cut in training camp.

More impressive for Jones has been his life after football. Claude Jones is now Dr. Jones (not to be mistaken with Indiana Jones). If you’re looking for an internist, call a fellow ‘Cane.

Right tackle Mario Cristobal was a stalwart of the ‘Canes offensive lines of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Mario lettered from 1989-1992. Another Miami native on the 1991 offensive line that won the national championship, Cristobal has become one of the nation’s most well known coaches. Before hanging up cleats for a whistle, Mario was a member of the BIG EAST’s first-team in 1992. After a short stint playing for the Amsterdam Admirals, Mario returned to Miami to serve as a graduate assistant.

Cristobal was a G.A. at Miami under Butch Davis from 1998-2000 before heading to Rutgers with Greg Schiano. Mario was then named head football coach at FIU and served in that role from 2007-2012. After being fired at FIU, Mario coached under Nick Saban at Alabama earning a recruiter of the year nod scouring the nation for prospects from 2013-2016 for the Crimson Tide. Mario tasted the national title success once again in 2015 with Alabama before moving on to Oregon as assistant head coach to Willie Taggart. After Taggart left Oregon for FSU, Mario Cristobal was named the Ducks head football coach for the 2018 season.

The Reserves

Tirrell Greene was a guard and center for the Miami Hurricanes from 1991-1994. Greene was a pivotal part of keeping the 1992 makeshift Miami line together on their 11-0 regular season run before the stunning loss to Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Greene was named first team All-BIG EAST in 1993, and 2nd team All-BIG EAST in 1994. Greene wasn’t a consensus All-American but did make some of the nation’s All-American teams for his role on Miami’s ten win team in 1994. As a pro, Greene went undrafted in the NFL but the Pittsburgh, PA native did play for the Frankfurt Galaxy in 1996.

Kipp Vickers was a versatile lineman that played offensive and defensive line at Miami. Vickers lettered for the Hurricanes from 1989-1992, making him a two-time national champion. Strangely, Vickers had one of the most prolific NFL careers having stayed in the league from 1993 through 2002. During his pro career Vickers played for the Colts, Washington, Ravens, and returned to Washington at the end of his career. Vickers played in 72 total games making 24 starts. During the 1992 season Miami needed offensive linemen with key players injured and called upon Vickers and tight end Carlos Etheredge to shore up the line.

One of the most highly regarded offensive line prospects to ever sign with Miami coming out of high school, Zev Lumelski was a Hurricane from 1991-1994. A 6’7 offensive tackle, Lumelski finally started during the 1993 season and stayed in the starting line up for the 1994 season protecting quarterback Frank Costa and opening running lanes for fullback James Stewart in Dennis Erickson’s offense. Lumelski didn’t have the All-American career many expected when signing out of high school but did play professionally for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe.

Diego London lettered at Miami from 1989-1992 making the reserve lineman a two-time national champion. London was a scout team player until his redshirt senior season where he played in place of injured guard Rudy Barber during the 1992 season. London’s true claim to fame was being implicated by the New York Times in the Pell Grant scandal that led to the near death penalty for Miami from the NCAA.