If you’ve already seen my list of top five Miami defensive tackles, then this might look a little familiar. It’s hard to create the ideal Miami interior defender without using the skills those greats brought to the Hurricanes. Regardless, here is what the perfect Hurricanes’ defensive tackle might look like.
Vince Wilfork’s Size
Wilfork’s “Big Vince” nickname came with merit. He weighed in at 323 pounds at the NFL Combine and played up to every bit of it and more. Not only was Wilfork a huge, two-gapping space-eater, but he also had great stamina for a dude that big. Mostly importantly, he kept rushing lanes closed and solidified the interior of the defensive line for some of the best teams Miami has ever seen. Wilfork was not the tallest defensive tackle but it hardly mattered with the way he ate up double teams and brought down the ballcarrier for minimal gain.
Warren Sapp’s Athleticism
Sapp was and remains one of the freakiest athletes the positon has ever seen. That includes at the NFL level, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. Sapp had a devastatingly explosive first step, often beating interior offensive lineman as soon as the ball was snapped. He was also agile enough to slip between the gaps in the O-line and more often than not finished the play off with a tackle for loss. Sapp had impressive prolonged speed as well, showing his ability to bring down QBs who scrambled out of the pocket or chase RBs down the line of scrimmage. Just Sapp’s athleticism alone was enough to keep offensive coordinators up at night.
Cortez Kennedy’s Strength
Cortez Kennedy may not get as much love as some of the other U defensive tackle greats but the power in his game was unrivaled. After arriving at Corals Gables following two years at a junior college, Kennedy proved himself as a man among boys in his dominant 1989 season. Kennedy was bigger, stronger and more polished with his hands than most of the offensive linemen he faced off with. Predictably, this led to embarrassing match-ups for OLs who lined up against him. Kennedy’s power meant he was able to bull-rush his opponent into the ground throughout the course of a game. I’d like to see tape of an OL pancake Cortez Kennedy. That’s the only way I’d believe such a feat was possible.
Jerome Brown’s Swagger
Once again, the list ends with the Miami defensive tackle GOAT. Brown was the heart and soul of Miami’s defenses in the mid to late 80’s and for good reason. He was tough on the gridiron and played with the right amount of edge. In the locker room he was beloved by his teammates and widely respected as one of the team’s biggest leaders. On the field he was a havoc-wreaking gamebreaker who could ruin an offense’s day. He walked the walk and talked the talk. Without Jerome Brown we would be missing some of the most iconic moments of the “bad boy” Canes. Brown alongside Winston Moss and Alonso Highsmith at the ’86 Oklahoma coin toss. The fatigues. Brown recalling Pearl Habor in the pre-game dinner with Penn State before the ’87 Fiesta Bowl. The list goes on. And if you’re going to play DL at Miami, you have to have a little swagger.