Miami has earned the moniker “Tight End U” and rightfully so. Yes we know, because we do a top 5 Canes list every week, that the Hurricanes have produced some of the greatest players in college football at their respected position.
However, the tight end position at Miami has a different feel to it, you know that its an instrumental part of the team and program. Since 2000, 10 Hurricane tight-ends have been drafted into the NFL, including five first-round draft picks.
That being said, there are still a few guys from the glory days that we’ll talk about, so don’t think its a millennial takeover for this subject.
Also, because some of y’all still don't get it, I'm only counting the accomplishments these guys had at UM.
Honorable Mention: Clive Walford
One of the shining lights during the Al Golden era, Walford was a 4-year player at Miami. Throughout those years, Walford put on a show during his time at UM.
With 14 touchdowns hauled in during 2011-2014, which is tied for tenth all-time in Miami history, and first for tight ends.
Honorable Mention: David Njoku
Let the debate begin. I know some of y’all are even wondering why Njoku didn’t crack the top 5, hear me out.
While he is honestly the greatest athlete ever to play the position at Miami, Njoku left us too early. He only played two seasons, before leaving for the pros.
If he stayed one or two more years, this guy very well could've been number one on this list.
5. Greg Olsen
Who doesn’t love Greg With A Third Leg?? A fan favorite in the mid-2000’s in Miami, Olsen was straight consistent for the Canes. Also, he makes the list because he excelled with Kyle Wright as his quarterback.
During his time from 2004-2006, Olsen might have been the best tight end in the country, even with sloppy quarterback play.
First-Team All-ACC selection in 2006, like I said, Olsen was a rock during his Canes career. Though sadly, many people think of his 7th Floor Crew appearance, more so than his play on the field.
4. Daniel “Bubba” Franks
Our first tight end who is a member of the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, Franks shined in the mid-to-late-90’s under Butch Davis.
The 6”6 monster was just that, a monster. Of the 34 games he played for Miami, Franks started 30 of them. He also could be regarded as the one who started “Tight End U.”
A first-team All-American in 1999, Franks pulled in 12 touchdowns during his time with the orange and green.
3. Jeremy Shockey
Alright, let the debate continue on for this one. I love Shockey, one of my favorite all-time Canes, but this isn’t a list of that. If this was a list for all-time greatest Miami touchdown catches, Shockey’s catch may be number one.
Another Miami Hall of Fame member, Shockey was a JUCO transfer and played for the Hurricanes in 2000 and 2001.
The Oklahoma native was an All-American in 2001, and led the greatest college football team ever in receptions, and also to a National Championship. He was also a finalist for the John Mackey Award in 2001.
Only if had stayed another year....
2. Willie Smith
Yup, I told y’all old timers that I’d fit in a glory days player on this list. How could I leave off this legend? The Kosar-Smith connection is still a Miami classic!
An All-American in 1985, Smith was Miami’s first real star at the position, racking up 117 receptions during his Canes career. Smith was also Miam’s very first Hurricane tight end to gain first-team-All-American honors.
Smith also set the school-record for receptions in a game with 12 against Maryland in 1984, and is second on Miami’s all time list for catches in a season.
1. Kellen Winslow II
Yes, it is him. The most elite tight end in Hurricanes history, from 2002 to 2003 Winslow was without a doubt the best tight end in college football.
The only tight end in Miami history to capture the John Mackey Award, Winslow did just that in 2003. That same year, Winslow was a consensus first team All-American.
When he left UM after 2003, Winslow finished his career with 119 receptions, which was sixth-most in Miami history at the time.
He also left us with a memorable quote. “We don’t care about anybody but this U. They’re going after my legs. I’m going to come right back at them. I’m a [expletive] soldier.”