The legacy of the Miami Hurricanes’ defense is rich at several positions. At defensive tackle and linebacker, these positions have traditionally had great players and great characters. But its safety where talent and personality meet in some of the most Miami-ways possible. Here is what the perfect Miami safety would look like through a combination of Coral Gables’ best.
Ray-Ray Armstrong’s Size
It’s unfortunate that Ray-Ray did not finish out his career at Miami, due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal, but his length and build was among the best that the Hurricanes have ever seen at the position. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Armstrong ended up as a LB in the NFL but was a fearsome safety during his three year tenure in Miami. Armstrong’s peak came as a sophomore, starting 13 games on his way to 79 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and three INTs. The former 5-star recruit never fulfilled his immense potential and left Miami after being dismissed. A safety with his size though would make him a perfect template for a prototype DB.
Sean Taylor’s Athleticism
Sean Taylor could fill every spot on this list; he is pretty much the prototype in terms of all-around skillset. Taylor was a force in the secondary, even during his freshman year, thanks to his combination of size and athleticism. Taylor was 6’2” and built like a brickhouse, while still being able to run and cut like a scatback. Taylor flew from sideline to sideline, making him the ideal safety in any situation. He was fast enough to go from the deep middle of the field to the sideline, getting to the receiver and delivering a huge hit to jar the ball loose. And when the number one rated Miami-Dade recruit played closer to the line of scrimmage, he chased down ballcarriers and racked up tackles in bunches
Bennie Blades’ Tackling
The middle child of the Blades’ brothers was similar to Taylor in his all-around ability and was the original great Miami safety. Blades’ was more of a chess piece than a defined safety, able to play each position in the secondary. His versatility proved key in Miami’s 1987 season but his best attribute was the way he brought the ball carrier down. Despite being a little smaller than some of the other guys on this list, Blades was relentless in tracking and taking the ball carrier down. He exploded into his hits, bringing down RBs and WRs alike on his way to 286 total tackles.
Ed Reed’s Playmaking
Does Ed Reed really need any introducing? Another player who could fill multiple roles on this list, this is no debating however, his immense talent for playmaking. Reed is the best ballhawk Miami, and probably college football, has ever seen. Playing at the highest level, in the biggest games over his career in Miami, Reed still holds the school record with 21 interceptions, four of which he took back for a touchdown. Ed Reed would be hurt if anything other than his truly one-of-a-kind playmaking was recognized on this list.
Al Blades’s Heart
The youngest of the Blades’ brothers is rightly recognized as one of the underrated leaders that played for the Miami Hurricanes. Blades was a part of a legendary defensive backfield that included Reed, Mike Rumph and Phillip Buchanon and even in a group like that, Blades was right up there with Reed as one of the team’s biggest leaders. Blades played with the tenacity and fire that a younger brother with something to prove would, accumulating nearly 300 total tackles as a three-year starter from 1998-2000. And of course, we can’t mention the late Al Blades without also bringing up his legendary tunnel chant; “hit, stick, bust…” well you know the rest.