Something that is so incredibly unique about the Miami Hurricanes football team is the connection they have with their community. South Florida and UM football go hand in hand, and some of the greatest Canes ever to lace them up have come from either Dade, Broward or Palm Beach county. I’m doing a countdown of the greatest Hurricanes from each of those counties, because nothing brings a smile to our face quite like talking about our hometown Canes.
The 305, Dade County. No other area of land is closer to UM football, physically and emotionally. Obviously there have been great Hurricanes from nearly every part of the country, but being from Dade is different. There’s just something about when a Miami player holds up the 305 in his fingers, it just gives you goosebumps! I was originally going to make a list of the top five Canes to come out of Dade, but it would’ve just been impossible, so here’s the 10!
Frank Gore (Coral Gables High School):
If this was a list of players who excelled at Miami and then in pros, Gore would be near the top of the list. While he’s carved out an incredible NFL career, it’s a shame that his college days at UM were filled with injuries. Still, Gore managed to rack up nearly 2,000 yards on the ground, even while tearing his ACL twice at Miami.
Alonzo Highsmith (Christopher Columbus High School):
One of the original Hurricane big-time players to come out of Dade. A member of the 1983 National Championship team, Highsmith scored a touchdown in the classic Orange Bowl against Nebraska. Highsmith was a bruising fullback, and an all-time bad boy for the Canes.
Randal Hill (Miami Killian Senior High School):
“Thrill” Hill was perhaps the most difficult to leave off of this top-10 list. Whether it was 3rd-and-43 against Notre Dame, running through the tunnel against Texas, or dancing dirty on Cal, Hill left his mark at Miami, due to his 107 receptions for 1,643 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Darrin Smith (Miami Norland Senior High School):
An All-American on the 1991 championship team, Smith earned the same honors the very next season in 1992. Smith finished his career as the fourth leading tackler in Miami history, and is considered one of the best outside linebackers ever to play at the U. His 18-tackle game against FSU in 1991 still ranks as one of the most memorable single-game performances in school history.
10. Willis McGahee (Miami Central High School):
McGahee’s 2002 season alone puts him on this list. Filling in for an injured Frank Gore, McGahee made the most out of his opportunity, setting Miami single season records for rushing yards (1,753) and rushing touchdowns (28). He’s ninth all-time in career rushing yards, and third all-time for career touchdowns.
9. Michael Barrow (Homestead Senior High School):
Another linebacker, and this won't be the last one either on this list. Along with Smith and Jessie Armstead, this group formed the “Bermuda Triangle” at the linebacker position. 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 sent the Orange Bowl crowd 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.
8. Melvin Bratton (Miami Northwestern Senior High School):
Just like Highsmith, Bratton was one of the first superstars that Miami had that was actually from the 305. As a versatile running back, Bratton left UM with the school record for most touchdowns in a career (33). He was also considered to be the heart and soul of Miami’s 1987 National Championship team.
7. Duke Johnson (Miami Norland Senior High School):
The career leader in rushing yards at Miami, Johnson was a highlight reel from 2012 to 2014. A three-time All-ACC selection, Johnson finished his career with 3,519 rushing yards on 526 carries with 26 touchdowns.
6. Antrel Rolle (South Dade High School):
One of the top cornerbacks ever to play for the Hurricanes, Rolle’s career was filled with big-time plays and clutch performances. Rolle was first-team All-Big East in 2002, plus first-team All-ACC and a consensus first-team All-American in 2004.
5. Andre Johnson (Miami Senior High School):
In a program that has produced some of the greatest receivers in both college and NFL history, Johnson is right near the top of the list. The co-MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl against Nebraska, the Ken Dorsey to Johnson connection was straight lethal. Johnson is tenth in receiving yards and fourth in touchdowns at Miami.
4. Santana Moss (Miami Carol City High School):
Santana and his brother Sinorice both put on Miami helmets in college, though the older brother is remember a little more fondly. He was a walk-on for the Canes, but he sure didn’t play like it. He graduated as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,546), punt return yards (1,196), and all-purpose yards (4,394). “Big time players, step up in big games.”
3. Jonathan Vilma (Coral Gables High School):
When you think of the 2001 championship team and the Canes defense during those early 2000’s years, Vilma comes to mind automatically. From 2000 to 2003, number-51 was the vocal 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.
2. Ted Hendricks (Hialeah High School):
If you thought that I was really going to leave out the “Mad Stork,” you are surely mistaken. One of the greatest Hurricanes ever to play, Hendricks is often forgotten because he played back when America was being founded. A two-time All-American in 1967 and 1968, Hendricks is widely regarded as perhaps the first ever superstar in the history of the Miami program.
- Sean Taylor (Gulliver Prep):
Yes there’s been some unworldly players to come out of Dade and put on the Hurricanes uniform, but is there anybody better than Sean Taylor? At UM, Taylor was one of the greatest safeties every to play college football. In 2003, number-26 recorded 10 interceptions, and was also named a unanimous first-team All-American, the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Do you agree with this list? Who am I missing?