To quote Dusty Rhodes, by 1996 the Miami Hurricanes had fallen on hard times. The once proud ‘Canes legacy stumbled against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1995 Orange Bowl before falling to an 8-3 record in 1995 and a 9-3 record in 1996. Due to sanctions, gone were the days of competing for national championships and the 1997 season was even more miserable for Miami than the prior two.
But there was still a silver lining of the early Butch Davis era. That silver lining was Tremain Mack. Mack, who wore the number three for the Hurricanes, is one of my all-time favorite players to wear the orange and green. Over Mack’s time at Miami he did it all; from long snapping duties, to returning kicks and punts, blocking kicks, and being a starting safety for the ‘Canes.
In 1996 alone Mack averaged 37 yards per kick return with a touchdown and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score as well. Mack, from Tyler Chapel Hill High School in Tyler, Texas, was also a baseball star. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played baseball and football while also running track while at Miami.
Tremaine Mack was a feared kick blocker on special teams and returner in the kick return game. Mack had blocked seven kicks leading up to the ‘Canes showdown with West Virginia in 1996. Miami was the underdog to the Mountaineers in Butch Davis’ second season as head football coach at Miami. Trailing 7-3 with only 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Miami called on Mack for a big time play.
Mack delivered, blocking the West Virginia punt which was recovered by Jack Hallmon who handed the football off to Nick Brooks. Brooks ran 20-yards into the end zone to give Miami a 9-7 lead. The ‘Canes made the point after and escaped winning 10-7 in a massive upset victory in Morgantown, WV.
Tremain Mack went on to play four seasons in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals where he was a 4th round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Mack was a Pro Bowl return specialist and set Bengals records for kick return yards with 3,583 yards. He’s now a football coach at Mount Rainier High School in Washington.