DEFENSIVE END - Jerome McDougle
A junior college
transfer, McDougle was a 2002 All-American according
to the American Football Coaches Association and a Ted Hendricks Award
Finalist (for the nations premiere defensive end), and a two-time
All-Big East selection.
Perhaps his best game as a Cane came that season as he dominated the
Florida Gators, harassing Rex Grossman all day and night at 'the Swamp'.
McDougle was a talented pass rusher, who could also
play the run effectively. He would finish his two-year
UM career with 14 career sacks and 16 tackles for
losses. In 2001, alone, he would amass an amazing 48 quarterback
DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Vince Wilfork
In the mold of past
Cane tackles, Vince was a big guy with a quick first
step, who could clog up things inside and collapse the
He was integral part of the Canes defensive line from 2001-2003. He
would end up with 14 career sacks and 37.5 tackles for losses.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE - William Joseph
He would begin his
career as a defensive end but would then move inside
to his more natural position in 2000. Joseph was a
stout player with good strength.
His best year was 2001 when he would tally 10 sacks (including a hat trick versus FSU) and 19 tackles
behind the line of scrimmage. His efforts in that
national title season were good enough to earn 3rd
team All-American honors.
A 2002 Playboy Preseason All-American, and eventual
first-round pick of the New York Giants, he finished
his Miami career with 19.5 sacks and 47 tackles for
DEFENSIVE END - Baraka Atkins
For his senior year,
he's back where he belongs. Folks seem to forget that
in 2003( his redshirt freshman year) that he was on
pace for double-digit sacks as a defensive end. Due to
various factors, the unselfish Atkins had to move
inside for the past couple of seasons.
While he was a very good tackle, at 6'4, 275 pounds,
he can be a dominant end. He comes into 2006 with 14
career sacks, 20.5 tackles for losses- and he even has
a 52 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against
Houston in 2004- to his credit.
Atkins has also been as dependable as the sun rising,
starting 35 of 36 games in which he's suited up for
HONORABLE MENTION: Jamaal Green, Andrew Williams, Matt Walters, and Damione Lewis
LINEBACKER - Jonathan Vilma
Smart and heady have been used
so often to describe the product of Coral Gables High
that you began to think his name was 'the Smart and
Heady Jonathan Vilma'. Beginning in his true freshman
year (where he was named a frosh All-American), where
he ably came off the bench, Vilma was a standout
performer at the 'mike'.
Out of his 377 career stops, none are more memorable
than his two bone-jarring hits in the 2002 Rose Bowl
against the 'Huskers. Vilma, like all UM 'backers is a
guy that can run and roam sideline-to-sideline and was
athletic enough to play in any situation.
A two-time All-Big East selection, he led the 2002 and
2003 teams in tackles.
LINEBACKER - Dan Morgan
In his senior year he had one
of the most illustrious seasons ever by a college
defender by winning the post-season 'Triple Crown' by
garnering the Butkus Award, the Nagurski Award and the
Bednarik Award, for his defensive prowess in 2000.
His game that year against the Noles is the stuff of
legend. 17 tackles, 14 of them solo, and a key INT at
the goal-line right before the half, to key Miami to
it's first victory over FSU in five years. All this
while battling dehydration and nausea throughout that sweltering
afternoon at the Orange Bowl.
He was intensity and courage personified and was one
of the key building blocks of the Miami rebuilding
efforts in the late 90's.
The 2000 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and a three-time All-Big
East performer, his 532 tackles is number one not only at Miami, but in
the Big East.
LINEBACKER - D.J. Williams
One of the most heavily
decorated players ever to sign with Miami, Williams
would begin his career in 2000 as a fullback- even
scoring a touchdown in the 2001 Sugar Bowl against the
But by 2001, he would be entrenched as an outside
linebacker for the rest of his Miami career. Williams,
had a body chiseled from marble, could mug blockers at
the point of attack and lay the wood.
He would have 245 career tackles, 28 of the behind the
line of scrimmage and 14 sacks.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rocky McIntosh, Chris Campbell
CORNERBACK - Antrel Rolle
A strong, physical corner,
who excelled at press coverage, Rolle, was a versatile
and intelligent player who could handle a variety of
roles in the defensive backfield.
His signature performance would come in the 2003
season finale at Pittsburgh with the Big East title on
the line. Rolle, would throttle Panther All-American
Larry Fitzgerald, relegating him to a few token
receptions, keying a strong Hurricane defensive
In 2004, he would earn All-American honors and was a
finalist for the Thorpe Award( given to the nations
best DB), while earning All-ACC honors. A corner who
wouldn't shy away from contact, he had 192 career
tackles, along with nine takeaways.
CORNERBACK - Phillip Buchanon
P-Buch is perhaps the
best pure cover man Miami has ever had. Blessed with
great speed and cat-quick, he could blanket receivers
and shut down one-half of the field.
In 2001, he would earn All-Big East accolades for both
his work at corner and punt returning.
Buchanon was always a threat with the ball in his
hand, he averaged 31.4 yards a return on his five
SAFETY - Ed Reed
Not much needs to be said about
perhaps one of the great leaders and players in Miami
lore. Not only was he the catalyst for a secondary
that featured three first-round picks, but he was one
of the unquestioned leaders of the 2001 championship
A two-time All-American, his 21 intercepts is the best
in Miami history, as is his 389 yards in interception
return yardage. He would take five of his pick-offs
back to the paint. In all, his turnovers and blocked
kicks would lead to 106 points throughout his run at
But still, even listing all his honors and statistics
still doesn't tell the full story of #20.
SAFETY - Sean Taylor
Quite simply, one of the best
pure athletes to ever play at Miami- and that's saying something. One of
four true freshman to earn a letter on the 2001 team, by 2002 he was
starring as the starting safety. He would cap off that season by picking
off two passes in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against the Buckeyes and making
2003 was where he would take his game to another
stratosphere, picking off 10 throws( an all-time
seasonal best at UM) and absolutely dominating FSU at
Doak Walker with two picks, including an amazing 'pick
six' where he zig-zagged through a host of Noles
through a soggy, wet field. His two intercepts at
Pittsburgh was part of a defensive effort that held
the great Fitzgerald to three grabs for 26 yards.
While he rightfully earned All-American distinction
and was named the 2003 Big East Defensive Player of
the Year, the fact he didn't win the Thorpe Award(
over Oklahoma's Derrick Strait) is a robbery of
Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez proportions.
PUNTER - Freddie Capshaw
A former walk-on, the strong
legged Capshaw provided booming punts for Miami on a
consistent basis. Capshaw, a two-time All-Big East
performer, was also a 2001 Ray Guy Award finalist,
when he averaged 41.8 yards per boot. He would also
win Big East Special Teams Player of the Week four
times throughout his career.
His best game was the 2001 rout of FSU in which he
averaged a whopping 48.2 yards per punt and he even
scored a seven-yard touchdown after a botched hold on
a field goal attempt.
PUNT RETURNER - Santana Moss
I wouldn't argue with the selection of
Buchanon, who earned All-American honors for his returning skills in
2001, was named the Big East Special Teams Player of the Year and was
one of three finalists for the Tatupu Award( for best special teams
player) for his 15 returns that netted 464 yards and two scores.
But what swings this by a hair in favor of 'Tana is
that he is the all-time leader in punt return yards
with 1,196 and touchdowns with six.
Either way, you can't go wrong.
HONORABLE MENTION: Roscoe Parrish
Steve Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org