During the down years for Miami Hurricanes Football, the issue revolved around the lack of coaching and the wasted talent at some positional groups. In this piece, I will be looking back at some of the most explosive former canes in recent years who I believe could have had better careers in college under the right coaching.
Offensive players who would contribute to the current Miami team:
Phillip Dorsett - WR (2011-2014)
Coming in from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, FL, Dorsett was a top recruit in South Florida who had blazing speed and big-play potential. He was clocked with 4.3 speed and made appearances starting in his freshman year.
During the Al Golden regime, Phillip had his best year in 2014 in which he accounted for 36 catches and over 800 yards, with 10 touchdowns. He was a deep threat that averaged 24 yards per catch. Although he did end up in the first round of the NFL Draft, I still believe he still didn’t get enough targets his way. If he was in an offense with a play-caller that excelled and got the most out of players, he could’ve had an even better career. He was an exceptional athlete who could always get the crowd invested in the game.
Imagine if Enos coached him in his system with motions and getting the right mismatches. This makes you wonder if he could’ve had a couple of games similar to his game against NC State in 2012 (7 catches, 191 yards, 2 TD’s). It was this game where Dorsett and Stephen Morris blessed the fanbase with this incredible performance!
Even in the NFL, Dorsett has shown flashes of him being a solid receiver in the slot and outside. He hasn’t lived up to his first-round hype, but that could all come back to him not getting the advanced coaching at Miami. Hopefully this year he becomes a bigger name in Foxborough due to the departure of some receivers up there.
Duke Johnson - RB (2012-2014)
(Sigh) Duke... Duke... Duke... the man who deserved the world, and one of my all-time favorite players to ever wear the green and orange. He was always sought out to be the Hometown Hero and lived up to every expectation during his time in the Gables. He is one of the best backs to ever play for this program and the numbers back it up. He was a Swiss army knife for Miami that always kept the team alive.
Duke never failed to amaze the fanbase every week as he always gave it his all to for his team to succeed. He was notorious for his lethal stiff arm, big plays, and incredible athletic abilities. One of the most heartbreaking moments has to of been when he suffered a broken ankle against FSU in 2013; which really hurt our momentum the rest of the season. He still managed over 900 yards that year and never had a YPC Lower than 6.3 during his career. A generational type playmaker in the college level who never had top coaches to get him over the edge to his full potential. This still seems to be the case in the NFL with Browns.
I could only imagine the impact Duke would have had with this team now. He is truly a player that can make any team better and could have done incredible things with TNM.
I recommend finding time to remember how incredible this man was for Miami
He is a player that has always been humbled and done the most when given the opportunity. He ranks amongst the top in receiving backs in the league, and could really be a huge asset for a team that utilizes their tailbacks. He recently attended Paradise Camp to spread knowledge amongst the players in attendance; and well of course... he was wearing a backpack.
Brad Kaaya - QB (2014-2016)
Brad Kaaya was our “saving grace” and was supposed to secure our wins against top teams in the future. I remember being so excited for Kaaya to enroll and lead this team. He had a pretty good career with almost 10,000 yards, 69 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions. Those statistics gave him a 146.2 career rating, and he is the All-Time leader in passing in Hurricanes history. He was so close to being elite, but the lack of big-time wins keeps him out of that category. The block at the rock will for sure be a game that will haunt this Miami team.. Till this day, I wish Kaaya stayed one more year and got revenge on the Noles.
I will say, it would have been really interesting to see what Coach Enos would have been able to do with a passer like Kaaya. Brad had an arm that showed real potential at times and would’ve been nice to see Miami put up more points throughout his career.
In the NFL Brad got signed by the Detroit Lions and never saw any playing time in the regular season. He bounced around the league and tried to make multiple teams, but never became a solid backup.
Defensive players who would contribute to the current Miami team:
Deon Bush - S (2012-2015)
The former 5 star from Columbus High School (Miami) was too hard to keep off this list. He was a true cane that was so exciting to watch. His biggest moments came from him coming down and laying a huge hit on opposing players. He was an awesome defender who always seemed to be a leader for the defense and would deliver with big-time plays.
He was a player who held down the starting role in the secondary for quite some time during his years and was a key member to our defensive success. During his career, he finished with 168 total tackles, 10 of those being for a loss, 4 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 9 forced fumbles (5 in his junior year).
I truly believe Coach Banda would have done some incredible things with Deon Bush here in Miami. Banda has been successful when it comes to developing safeties and them having an urgency and impact for the team.
After Miami, Deon got selected by the Chicago Bears in the 4th round in the 2016 NFL Draft. In his time in Chicago, he has made multiple appearances and has been pretty solid for their defense when needed. Bush was recently at Paradise Camp joining an incredible group of former safety’s who stopped by and gave back to current and potential Canes.
Denzel Perryman - LB (2011-2014)
Denzel Perryman, from Coral Gables High School, was a 3 Star outside linebacker who had his recruitment come down to Florida, Florida State, and Miami. He was heavily recruited by former Miami Hurricanes linebacker and linebacker coach, Michael Barrow. Perryman was an exceptional talent at linebacker who truly embodied what it meant to be a Cane. He was a beast between the lines and was heavily trusted to make plays.
When 52 was suited in the green & orange he was a true talent that would always amaze on Saturdays. Whether it was his football instincts, his tackling ability, or his hard-hitting.. he was a player you wanted to avoid. During his career, he was responsible for 351 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles. Denzel Perryman was an alpha dog throughout his four years and represented his hometown proudly. He was a fan favorite and was one of our better linebackers in the last two decades for the Canes.
Following his Senior year, Perryman was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2nd round. He has always been a remarkable playmaker who possesses insane size. Heading into his 5th year in the league, he as accounted for over 220 total tackles. His career has been somewhat plagued with injuries, which is a true shame for someone with so much talent. An entire healthy season for Perryman would help shape the Chargers to have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL.
Having Denzel Perryman in a Manny Diaz defense would honestly be incredible. A special player at the position who truly deserved to have been apart of a more successful team during his time in Miami.
Anthony Chickillo - DL (2011-2015)
Anthony Chickillo was a player who was probably held back the most during his time in Miami. As a recruit, he was a 5-star athlete who was the second-best weak-side edge rusher in the nation. He was a heavily recruited player who had offers from Ohio State, University of Southern Cal, University of Florida, and the University of Alabama.
In his career, he seemed to be more dominate when lined up outside the tackle and bull-rushing towards the ball. He was a player that always had the size and strength, as well as pretty good speed. Chickillo finished his career with 171 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, and 14.5 sacks. I truly believe if the Canes had another chance with Chickillo, he would’ve been a way more dominant edge rusher, who potentially had more strength and less weight.
Even with a career that could have featured more dominance, Anthony Chickillo was still drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 6th round. Throughout his career, he has been a backup linebacker who has always maintained a roster spot on a hard-nosed Steelers defense. He has recorded over 60 total tackles and 14 TFL’s. While being apart of the Steelers, he has played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, which has him rush off the edge. This comes back to the theory that if he was only used on the outside edge, his career could have been more productive. He is a player who I truly wish had another chance at proving his potential on the field.
Why I picked these players
Each of these players did incredible things with Miami but potentially could’ve done more. During the “Golden” era, which featured many head-scratching moments, and lack of successful coaching, there were still plenty of athletes that could have had better careers and an even better record.
What other players during this time, and even before, do you think would have an impact on TNM? Let me know in the comments below!