On defense, Miami has historically produced incredible players both at the U, and then those who went on to have incredible careers in the NFL. While defensive backs and defensive tackles are what people know them most for producing, linebackers might be their most impressive position on the defensive side of the ball.
For years, all you’ve heard about is how Penn State is “Linebacker U” however, Miami has certainly given them, and the rest of the country a run for their money.
In Miami’s history, they’ve produced countless legends at linebacker, including 8-first-team All-Americans.
While I count down the top 5 linebackers in school history let me remind you, I'm only taking into consideration these players accomplishments during their time at Miami.
Honorable Mention: Jon Beason
Beason was a two-year starter in the mid 2000’s under coach Larry Coker, and was known was his ferocity. His 2006 season was his best, leading the Canes with 92 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Honorable Mention: Nate Webster
Known by Brett Romberg as an “insane human being” (see 30 for 30) this ferocious hitter led the team in tackles in 1999 with 150, and averaged 13 tackles a game during his time at Miami
Honorable Mention: D.J. Williams
One of the most physically gifted players ever to come to Miami, Williams was an integral part of the dominant Canes defense in the early 2000’s. In 2002, Williams totaled 108 tackles, including 16 against FSU that season.
Honorable Mention: Jessie Armstead
With the amount of honorable mentions, I hope you start to understand how difficult it was to make this lift. Armstead was apart of the 1989 and 1991 national championship team.
5. Darrin Smith
An All-American on the 91 championship team, Smith earned the same honors the very next season.
Smith finished his career as the fourth leading tackler in Miami history, and is considered one of the greatest outside linebackers ever to play the U.
Giving one of the greatest single-game performances in school history, Smith tallied 18 tackles against FSU in 1991.
4. Michael Barrow
Its no coincidence that Barrow, Smith and Armstead all made the article. Known as the “Bermuda Triangle” these three head hunters played together from 1990 to 1992.
Barrow finished his career as the third leading tackler in UM history, and is widely remembered for his hit on FSU receiver Tamarick Vanover in 1992 that send the Orange Bowl into a frenzy.
1992 was the finest year for Barrow, finishing with 136 tackles, seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting, and receiving first team All-American honors.
3. Jonathan Vilma
When you think of the 2001 championship team, and the Canes defense during those early 2000’s years, number 51 comes to mind automatically.
From 2000 to 2003, Vilma was the vocal leader, and statistical leader for Miami. A freshman All-American in 2000, and then an All-American in 2003, the Coral Gables product was simply everywhere.
Also worth noting, during Vilma’s career, the Canes were 5-0 against Florida State.
2. Ray Lewis
Calm down, just please, calm down. This was by far the hardest decision of the list, maybe of my life. Quite possibly the greatest linebacker in the history of the NFL, Lewis is number two on this list.
A recent inductee to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, Lewis might be the most intimidating player ever to put on the Orange and Green, which is saying something.
During his 3-year-career at Miami, Lewis’ stats are staggering. A school-record 160 tackles in 1995 as well as first-team All-American, and his 152 tackle season in 1994 is second in school history.
Heck, Lewis may even be the most famous Hurricane of all-time! And yet, he’s number two on this list.
1. Dan Morgan
Yes, it is true. Say what you will about your opinion on who should be number one, Morgan is the poster child for Miami linebackers.
Morgan is the only player in COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY, not just Miami history, to win the Butkus Award, Nagurski Award and the Bednarik Award in the same season. That same year, 2000, Morgan was a first-team All-American, as well as unanimous selection as Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Dan still holds the Miami school record with 532 tackles, which means Morgan averaged 133 tackles a season for four years.
Can I keep going? Morgan once recorded 21 tackles in a game in 1997 against Virginia Tech.
All the while, number 44 helped Miami gain prominence once again.
Alright alright, let the debate begin.
Come at me.