Under head coach Manny Diaz the Miami Hurricanes have been the kings of the transfer portal. Miami has portal’d in KJ Osborn, Tate Martell, Bubba Bolden, and now D’Eriq King. Sure, Diaz has been the portal master but it’s not like the ‘Canes haven’t brought in big time transfers before.
As an aside: JUCO players aren’t going to count, otherwise guys like Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie and Richard Newbill would obviously have made the list. Instead, I’m looking solely at the transfers from other four-year colleges.
Here are the top 5 transfer players in Hurricane history (or at least that I can recall).
5 K.J. Osborn, Wide Receiver/Returner
K.J. Osborn spent his first four season of college football cutting his teeth for the MAC’s Buffalo Bulls. Osborn came to Coral Gables as a graduate transfer and worked himself into a starting role immediately. What Osborn lacked in flash he made up for in consistency and leadership.
Over the 2019 season Osborn was Miami’s most reliable receiver and punt returner. Osborn finished the season with 50 catches for 547 yards (10.9 yards per catch) and 5 touchdowns. He also averaged 20.1 yards per kick return and 15.9 yards per punt return which is an outrageous average for the latter.
Osborn might be too small to be that slow but he could catch on with an NFL practice squad as a punt returner and 5th wide receiver in the NFL.
4 Gerald Willis III, Defensive Tackle
Gerald Willis was a high potential player when he arrived in Gainesville, FL as a blue chip defensive lineman for the Gators. Willis struggled with discipline and eventually wound up in Miami where Mark Richt balanced Willis’ off-field struggles. Willis eventually panned out for Miami in 2018, after years of redshirting, gray shirting, and the transfer.
Willis’ 2018 earned him Second Team All-ACC honors for the six-foot-two, 300 pound three technique defensive tackle. Willis logged 59 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and four sacks his senior season in orange and green. Willis went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft and has already bounced from the Baltimore Ravens to the Miami Dolphins.
3 Pat O’Donnell, Punter
Pat O’Donnell was a “graduate transfer” before the phrase became a household polarizer. O’Donnell came to the Miami Hurricanes from the Cincinnati Bearcats for the 2013 season. While at Cincinnati, O’Donnell was named to the first and second team All-BIG EAST teams as a punter. In 2013, O’Donnell boomed punts for a 47.1 yard average including 23 punts of 50 or more yards and 11 inside the 20 yard line.
O’Donnell ended the 2013 season as a first-team All-ACC selection and special teams MVP. The strong legged O’Donnell was also made a second and third team All-American by different publications for his redshirt senior campaign.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, O’Donnell was selected with the Bears 6th round selection. He has been the starting punter ever since, averaging 44.9 yards per punt in the NFL.
2 Dan Sileo, Defensive Tackle
Dan Sileo came to the University of Miami from the Maryland Terps (with a short stop at Cincinnati). At Maryland, Sileo was a member of the Terps 1983 ACC Championship squad. Sileo eventually transferred to Miami where he started alongside Jerome Brown on the 1986 team that played in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. An All-American in 1986, Sileo picked up 84 tackles with 8 tackles for loss.
The six-foot-two, 282 pound Sileo was drafted in the NFL’s Supplemental Draft in the 3rd round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being ruled to be out of eligibility by the NCAA. Sileo then bounced around the professional football ranks between the Bucs, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions of the NFL, and the Orlando Thunder, Las Vegas Sting and Las Vegas Posse. Sileo made the WLAF 2nd team All-League in 1992.
1 Brock Berlin, Quarterback
An extremely controversial transfer at the time, Florida Gators blue chip quarterback Brock Berlin chose to transfer to the Miami Hurricanes and sat out the 2002 season. The former USA Today High School All-American (1999), Berlin arrived in Coral Gables with much anticipation as the heir to the throne after Ken Dorsey was set to graduate following the 2002 season.
Berlin had a rocky 2003 season, but did beat his former Florida Gator squad on a miracle come from behind victory. The 2003 team was coordinated by Rob Chudzinski who failed to adapt his offensive scheme to Berlin’s strengths. Berlin, a shotgun-spread quarterback, was pigeon holed by the ‘Canes into being a pro style QB... sound familiar?
After 2003’s struggles, new OC Dan Werner spread it out for Mr. Berlin and Brock threw for 2,961 yards and 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions on his way to Second-Team All-ACC honors in 2004. Berlin finished his tenure at Miami with a 19-5 record despite overcoming bad coaching from the start of the demise of the Larry Coker era.
Berlin went undrafted in 2005, but managed to hang around the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Cowboys, Rams, and Lions from 2005-2009. The 2003 BIG EAST Champion QB failed to throw a touchdown pass over his NFL career.