The University of Miami and the word “Jersey” have gone hand-in-hand I’m sure since the school’s opening, but especially since the 1960’s. Whether it’s famous games played in the state of New Jersey, or players and coaches from New Jersey, or the famous uniforms of The U- if you’re looking for a place that’s built Miami outside of the state of Florida it’s probably New Jersey.
For starters, Miami has an all-time record of 11-0 over Rutgers, which is located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Miami dominated Rutgers at home but also when playing in the Garden State pounding the Scarlet Knights 24-3 in their first meeting in 1994, and 42-17 in the two programs last meeting in 2002.
The ‘Canes have played two memorable kickoff classics at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in the 1984 and 1999 seasons. In 1984, Jimmy Johnson opened his Hurricanes career by beating the number one ranked Auburn Tigers on August 27, 1984. The ‘Canes edged Auburn and their star running back Bo Jackson 20-18 on the legs of Alonzo Highsmith.
Then in 1999, Miami opened another disappointing season with a game at the Meadowlands- this time beating number nine Ohio State 23-12. James Jackson slugged the game out with the OSU defense picking up 89 yards on 24 carries with quarterback Kenny Kelly threw a touchdown and two interceptions in the win.
Here are the most famous names in Miami Hurricane history to hail from the Soprano state of New Jersey. We’re going to tip off with a basketball legend before hitting the diamond and wrapping up with walk to the Orange Bowl.
Starting off the tradition of New Jersey would be Miami basketball legend Rick Barry. Barry came to the University of Miami in 1962 and stayed through the 1964-1965 season. Barry was a consensus All-American for the ‘Canes and the 2nd overall pick of the 1965 NBA Draft. His college resume boasted two NCAA scoring titles, including averaging 37 points per game in his final season.
Over a 15 year pro career, Barry started off strong winning the 1966 NBA Rookie of the Year. He was later a World Champions with the Golden State Warriors for the 1974-1975 season, where he was named the NBA Finals MVP. Barry was a six time All-NBA first team selection, an eight time NBA All-Star.
Barry is most famous for his underhand free throw shot which made him the greatest free throw shooter of all-time. Barry’s signature shot actually helped Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points in a single game, and put Barry in the record books.
Players weren’t the only Jersey natives to make their mark at Miami. Former head football coach Al Golden is a Jersey native, former defensive coordinator Greg Schiano hails from the Garden State, too, as did former Athletic Director Paul Dee. Dee guided Miami athletics through the football sanctions of the mid-90’s to winning the BCS National Championship for the 2001 football season, as well as College World Series championships in baseball for the 1999 and 2001 seasons. Another New Jersey native would make his mark on Miami athletics forever.
Ron Fraser is better known to college baseball fans as “The Wizard.” Fraser was born in Nutley, NJ in 1933 and actually played baseball at Florida State University. Fraser took the Miami job in 1963, before the ‘Canes even offered scholarships for baseball. Fraser tirelessly worked to make the Hurricanes a national power including the building of Mark Light Stadium, the creation of the Miami Maniac mascot, and his lobbying of ESPN to air the CWS games from Omaha, Nebraska.
Fraser won 1,271 games as the Hurricanes skipper from 1963-1992, guided Miami to 20 straight post-season appearances, 12 CWS appearances, two CWS Championships in 1982 and 1985, and a CWS runner-up in 1974. Fraser’s time in Coral Gables produced a number of Major League Baseball players including World Series winning catcher Charles Johnson, Danny Graves, Rick Raether, and others.
Without Ron Fraser there may not be a Miami Hurricanes baseball program, which managed four CWS Championships and endless post-season appearances.
On the gridiron
The football team has recruited the football rich state of New Jersey quite heavily since the 1980’s. Some of Miami’s most dominant players have come from the state including recent Miami Hurricanes David Njoku and 2001 National Championship defensive end Jamaal Green. But the ‘Canes have had five legends hail from the Garden State that are worth mentioning in more detail.
The five best Hurricanes players from the state of New Jersey kick off with an offensive lineman in Greg Rakoczy. Rakoczy came to Miami from Medford Lakes, NJ and was a part of the 1983 National Championship team that beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Rakoczy went on to start for Miami and be drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 1987 NFL Draft. After starting at center and guard for the Browns in multiple AFC Championship games, Rakoczy finished his career with the New England Patriots. Rakoczy’s NFL career spanned 48 starts in 81 games.
Another Greg left his mark on the Hurricanes (worst. pun. ever.) in the 80’s. Greg Mark came to Coral Gables from Cherry Hill, NJ winning the national championship in both 1987 and 1989 for the ‘Canes. Mark was a 1989 consensus All-American and 3rd round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1990. After bouncing around positions and teams Greg Mark finished his NFL career playing in six total games.
While his NFL career didn’t live up to high expectations, Mark was a dominant college player and 2003 inductee to the Miami Sports Hall of Fame. While at Miami, Mark logged 34.5 sacks, 253 tackles, and 35 starts. Mark returned to Miami as a graduate assistant from 1992-1994, coached at Utah State in 1995 and returned to coach at Miami in 1996. Mark won his third national championship at Miami as part of the coaching staff for the 2001 ‘Canes squad.
Another Greg (Im’ starting to notice a trend here) to make an impact on Miami from the Garden State was Greg Olsen. Olsen actually came to Miami via Notre Dame. The Paterson, NJ native had to sit out the 2003 season after transferring but became a starter by the 2005 season. Olsen left Miami with 87 catches, 1,215 yards receiving, and six touchdowns over three seasons in orange and green.
Olsen was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact in The Windy City, being voted to the All-Rookie Team in 2007. Olsen has been named to three Pro Bowl rosters, and was voted a second team All-Pro twice. Since 2007, Olsen has caught 718 passes for 8.444 yards and 59 touchdowns. He will play for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020 after spending the last few seasons in Carolina with the Panthers.
The lanky Danny Stubbs came to Miami from Long Branch, NJ where he was a basketball and football star at Red Bank Regional High School. Stubbs signed with Howard Schnellenberger but played for Jimmy Johnson in the 4-3 Miami defense. Stubbs dominated the minute he moved to defensive end and logged 12 sacks as a sophomore, 17 as a junior, and 9.5 as a senior for the ‘Canes. Stubbs finished his career at Miami as an All-American and national champion after the 1987 season.
Stubbs went on to the NFL where he was a 2nd round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Stubbs played in 134 pro games logging 227 tackles and 51.5 career sacks. Stubbs won two Super Bowls in the NFL, both as a 49er. He then played for Johnson in Dallas, the Bengals, Eagles and Miami Dolphins over an illustrious career.
New Jersey’s biggest contribution to The U on the football field comes in the form of Bryant McKinnie. “Mount McKinnie” came to Miami via Lackawanna College (JUCO) but hails from Woodbury, NJ. The six-foot-eight, 355 pound left tackle anchored Miami’s offensive lines in 2000 and 2001 where he failed to give up a single sack of quarterback Ken Dorsey. McKinnie was a first-team All-American in 2000 and 2001, a BCS National Champion in 2001, and the 2001 Outland Trophy Winner.
McKinnie was the 7th overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnie was a Pro Bowler in 2009, and a Super Bowl Champion in 2012 with the Baltimore Ravens. McKinnie played in 179 pro games, starting 162 of them and appearing in VH1’s “Love of Hip Hop Miami.”
Without McKinnie, Miami does not win the national championship and his departure was felt throughout the 2002 season but especially in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl as Miami’s tackles were dominated by Ohio State’s Will Smith.
It’s clear to see the Garden State has offered The U some of its most memorable coaches, games, and players in a variety of sports and roles in Coral Gables. Which Jersey natives or moments had the biggest impact on Miami? Vote now!
Which Jersey native or moment had the biggest impact on Miami?
This poll is closed
1984 KOC versus Bo Jackson’s Tigers
1999 KOC versus Ohio State
Rick Barry, basketball
Ron Fraser, baseball
Bryant McKinnie, football
Danny Stubbs, football