Before the 2001 Miami Hurricanes won the national championship and took over the NFL for around a decade; the 1986 Miami Hurricanes were considered the greatest collection of college football talent ever assembled. A common threat is that both rosters were in some way shaped by Butch Davis. Why is the 1986 team so memorable? It had Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Vinny Testaverde, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, and other ‘Canes legends like Bennie Blades, and George Mira Jr. But the room that stood out the most was the defensive line led by Jerome Brown.
Butch Davis was the defensive line coach of the 1986 Hurricanes under head football coach Jimmy Johnson. Davis’ meeting rooms were a who’s who of the Miami Hall of Fame and of the NFL in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Probably the first defensive tackle to really be the spotlight of his program, Jerome Brown was a dominant personality that was a major cog in the Hurricanes “Decade of Dominance.” Brown started from 1983-1986, was a consensus All-American in 1986, and started in four New Year’s Day bowl games for Miami. Brown has 21 career sacks and is a member of the UM Hall of Fame. The 6’2 and 285 pound defensive tackle logged 75 tackles and 5 sacks in a more run happy era of college football. His most infamous for the 1987 Fiesta Bowl walk-out and breaking Troy Aikman’s leg in 1985.
In the NFL, Brown was the 9th overall pick of the 1987 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Brown was a two time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection and had 29.5 career sacks before his tragic passing in the 1992 off-season.
At defensive end, Daniel Stubbs was ahead of his time as a long rangy player that dominated college football. Stubbs was a member of the 1987 national championship team and a feared pass rusher, just as South Carolina. Stubbs had 17 sacks in 1986, and 39.5 over his career in Coral Gables. He is a Miami Hall of Fame member and in 1986 grabbed 97 tackles from his end position. In 1986 he was a second team All-American.
Stubbs was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. His NFL career spanned from 1988-1998 where he was a two time Super Bowl winner, and sacked the quarterback 51.5 times over his pro career. Stubbs played for the 49ers, Cowboys, Eagles and Dolphins over his career in the NFL.
Opposite of Stubbs was Bill Hawkins. Hawkins was a 6’6 and 240 pound defensive end for the Hurricanes. Hawkins started the 1986 season as only a sophomore. He finished the year with 62 tackles and 7 sacks on a roster where both were hard to come by as the team was so loaded with talent it was a feeding frenzy on quarterbacks and running backs. Hawkins was a consensus All-American following the 1988 season.
In the NFL, Hawkins was the 21st overall selection of the 1989 NFL Draft. After making the All Rookie Team in 1989, however Hawkins career ended in 1992 with a torn ACL in his knee. In 42 games as a pro Hawkins only logged 39 tackles and 5 sacks.
The other starting defensive tackle on the 1986 team was Dan Sileo. Now a radio personality, Sileo was a 2nd team All-American in 1986. The 288 pound Sileo totaled 84 tackles and 5 sacks over the season. After the Connecticut prep star started his career at Maryland he transferred to Miami to be a Hurricane. Sileo’s NFL career was short lived and he played in the league for the Buccaneers, before spending time in the World Football League, the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League.
One of the more profound changes to college football that Jimmy Johnson and Butch Davis made was keeping a rotation of defensive linemen going at all times. This allowed their players to stay fresh and gain invaluable experience as younger players. One of those young players was Jimmie Jones. Jones was a 6’4 and 240 pound freshman on the 1986 roster that made 39 tackles and sacked the quarterback 4 times. Jones played defensive end and defensive tackle for the Hurricanes. He continued on to the NFL where he won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys before playing for the Rams and Eagles. His pro career spanned 121 games and 32 sacks.
Another Jones, this one Derwin Jones, was a constant nuisance for Miami’s opponents. Jones, a 6’4 and 268 pound junior in 1986, logged 29 tackles and 3 sacks on the season. Jones was part of the 1987 national championship team and played at Miami from 1984-1987. His NFL playing career was short lived as he was a 10th round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 1988 draft and was cut before the season. Sadly, Jones passed away in 1999 from cancer at the age of 34.
Two of the younger players that went on to do great things in orange and green were Greg Mark and Russell Maryland. Greg Mark was a rangy 6’4 and 220 pound freshman in 1986. Mark made 17 tackles and came away with 3 sacks in 1986. Mark was a two-time national champion as a starter on the 1987 and 1989 Hurricanes teams, an AP All-American in 1989, and a Miami Hall of Fame member. Over his illustrious career at Miami, Mark made 35 starts, logged 253 tackles and 34.5 sacks. After serving as a graduate assistant at Miami from 1992-1994, Mark has become one of college football’s best defensive line coaches. Mark was a 3rd round pick of the New York Giants in the 1990 NFL Draft and only played one season in the league.
From out of shape freshman to number one overall pick, Russell Maryland was a redshirt on the 1986 Miami Hurricanes team. Maryland was a 6’4 and 295 pounder from Chicago that was brought in by Jimmy Johnson as a project. Maryland was eventually a consensus All-American and the Outland Trophy Winner in 1990. At Miami, Maryland finished his career with 279 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 20.5 sacks. His dominating performance over the Texas Longhorns in the 1991 Cotton Bowl is a thing of legend. A true student-athlete, Russell Maryland finished his Miami career as a member of the Iron Arrow fraternity. Maryland won national titles in 1987 and 1989 as a ‘Cane.
Maryland, the first overall pick of the 1991 NFL Draft, was a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys. He played from 1991-2000 for the Cowboys, Raiders and Packers totaling 24.5 sacks and 375 tackles over his pro career. Russell made the Pro Bowl in 1993 and while he may never make the NFL Hall of Fame like Cortez Kennedy, Maryland is in the Miami Hall of Fame.