In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was no college team more dominant than the University of Miami. It seemed as if every year the team was fully stocked with athletic freaks that could embarrass any other college team that dared face them on the field. Every year they had players leave for the NFL and become first round draft picks and future hall-of-famers. But most of all, "The U" (as it is commonly referred to) had a swagger unlike any other team in football. They were loud, obnoxious, physical, and they knew they were good.
The Hurricanes of the 1990's were exactly what the NFL fears today; they were fun. Their head coaches (Dennis Erickson and Butch Davis) allowed their players to express themselves and rack up unsportsmanlike penalties left and right, as long as they kept winning. It created a culture down in South Beach that players gravitated towards, a brotherhood of Canes so to speak. For years, many of the players on this list would gather each NFL offseason for training and partying in Miami. The best way to describe it was essentially a fraternity that players graduating from The U shared in the NFL and they all looked out for each other.
This list contains some of the best football players from this generation and it might surprise you that all of these guys played at Miami in the 1990's. Once seeing these names, it will not surprise you just how dominant the school was during this heyday of theirs. With every great team though, time passes and fans lose touch of the players they once idolized. Hopefully this article can provide you with a few minutes of reminiscing the good days of Hurricanes football in the 1990's. Let's get started...
15 Ed Reed
Ed Reed is one of the greatest NFL safeties of all time so it shouldn't surprise anybody to hear that Reed was also a standout collegiate player during his time at Miami. Reed played for the Hurricanes from 1998-2001 and holds the schools all-time career interception list with 21, 5 of which he returned for a touchdown. Reed went on to the NFL where he was ultimately named to 9 Pro-Bowls and won one Super Bowl.
After retiring from the NFL in 2015, Ed Reed reappeared in the NFL landscape as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2016. Reed was given the opportunity by his former coach Rex Ryan, who was always impressed with Reed's IQ and knowledge of the game. Although Reed was not retained by the Buffalo Bills after his one season as a coach, there is talk that he could one day rejoin his former team the Baltimore Ravens as a coach. Other than that, Reed also remains busy through the Ed Reed Foundation; a charity he created to help underprivileged youth realize their potential.
14 Reggie Wayne
While Ed Reed went on to have a hall-of-fame caliber NFL career, his former Miami teammate and roommate Reggie Wayne wasn't too bad himself. After a stellar collegiate career in Miami, Wayne was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. With the Colts, Wayne formed a formidable tandem with quarterback Peyton Manning and put up historic numbers, finishing his career as one of the top pass catchers in NFL history.
Given that Wayne just retired a little over a year ago, he is still adjusting to "normal" life outside of the NFL. Much of his time is now spent with his four children, all boys who keep him buys with their various sporting activities and school events. Wayne also has a desire for philanthropy, which was recently displayed when he helped promote a donation of 50,000 pounds of protein to local Indianapolis families in need. Wayne always seemed to be a very classy player and he continues to display this trait in his post NFL days.
13 Jessie Armstead
Jessie Armstead was a big, physical linebacker for two of the University of Miami's National Championship teams (1989, 1991). Armstead would have been a high NFL Draft pick after leaving Miami had he not suffered a brutal knee injury while in college. Still, Armstead was able to craft quite the career in the NFL as he was selected to 5 Pro Bowls during his nine seasons with the New York Giants. Armstead ultimately retired as a Giant in 2007.
Although he could no longer play the game, Armstead's passion for football was not dead. In 2008, Armstead signed on to be a "special assistant/consultant" for the New York Giants that would provide him the ability to assist in the player development aspect of the organization. Armstead continues to hold this position to this day, so he must have a talent for coaching. Outside of football, Armstead also runs several successful car dealerships in and around the the New York area.
12 Warren Sapp
As one of the most talented defensive lineman of his generation, Warren Sapp completely dominated his competition while in school at Miami. Sapp, who is also one of the biggest personalities to ever play in the NFL, turned a great collegiate career into a hall-of-fame NFL career with his relentless pursuit of poor NFL quarterbacks. He was a vocal leader and could dominate a game at the line of scrimmage, which helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when their first and only Super Bowl in 2002.
Sapp retired from the NFL in 2008 and quickly found employment as an analyst for Inside the NFL. He later bounced around in many different analysts positions for different shows but was always a hit because of his brash personality. Sapp's television appearances were quickly halted in 2015 when he was arrested for suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and assault while in Arizona covering Super Bowl XLIX. He's also unfortunately begun to suffer some effects from playing football: “I mean with the reminders in the phones, it really helped me get through my day with appointments and different things that I have to do, because it’s just, I can’t remember any more like I used to,” he said in a Players Tribune piece.
11 Leon Searcy
During his time at the University of Miami, Leon Searcy gave the Hurricanes a massive, intimidating presence on their offensive line. Incredibly, Searcy was able to win 3 National Championships during his time in South Beach. As sure fire of an offensive lineman as they come, Searcy was drafted #11 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1992 NFL Draft. He played a total of 11 seasons in the NFL, primarily for the Steelers and Jaguars before retiring in 2002.
In 2004, Searcy tried his hand at coaching at the collegiate level when he was hired as the offensive line coach for Florida International University, although it was short lived as Searcy finished coaching in 2006. Sadly for Searcy, he lived too flashy of a lifestyle for too long and ended up in financial turmoil. Yes, the one time highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL now lives a very simple life in a townhouse community, a stark contrast from the 9,000 square foot home he built during his playing days. Still, Searcy continues to be optimistic and loves being an entrepreneur.
10 Santana Moss
Nobody could stop Santana Moss from making explosive, game-changing plays while he was at the University of Miami. Moss played at The U from 1997-2000 and graduated as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards and punt return yards. His dynamic play making skills translated well to the NFL, where he put up several thousand yard seasons for numerous teams. Moss retired from the NFL after the 2014 season.
After his playing career ended, Moss actually returned to the University of Miami to obtain a Masters degree in Business Administration. Moss earned his degree in 2016, an impressive feat that showed he's more than just an athlete. In 2017, it was announced that Moss would return to the sport of football as a color commentator for the Washington Valor, an arena football team in the D.C. area. Given his intellectual prowess and strong knowledge of the game of football, commentating should be a great gig for Moss going forward.
9 Gino Torretta
Gino Torretta is the best University of Miami quarterback that young fans today will never know about. After serving as a backup in his first few seasons in Miami, Torretta took over the starting job in 1991 and promptly helped lead the Hurricans to a National Championship. In 1992, Torretta was impressive again as he won the Heisman Trophy. Overall, he finished his collegiate career with an eye-popping 26-2 record as a starter. Unfortunately for Torretta, his success was limited to college and his NFL career was very short lived.
Fortunately for Torretta, he proved to be a very smart business man and entered the financial world upon retirement from football. Torretta continues to live in the South Beach area and continues to be involved in football as the CEO of Touchdown Radio Productions and as a analyst for Sirius Radio. He also works for GAMCO Investors, as well as maintains the Torretta Foundation, a charity he started to help fight the scourges of ALS.
8 Stephen McGuire
Despite being considered one of the most underrated Miami Hurricanes of his generation, Stephen McGuire left his mark on the program in his stint in South Beach. McGuire was often a rushing full-back who received a lot of touches around the goal line. In fact, McGuire ended his career at Miami tied with only Edgerrin James for the school's career touchdown lead. This was one running back who sought out contact instead of trying to avoid it and it is for that reason that led him to his career after football.
Around the time of September 11, 2001, McGuire was in training to become an NYPD officer, a job that just seems so fitting for him. By 2002, McGuire was lacing up his cleats again but this time it was for the New York Police Department vs. the New York Fire Department charity football game. It may have been for charity but McGuire certainly donated his fair share of pain to the firemen brave enough to try and tackle the former National Champion. It wasn't confirmed, but it is believed that McGuire remains a loyal NYPD officer to this day.
7 Duane Starks
Every team needs a true shut-down cornerback and that is exactly what Duane Starks provided the Miami Hurricanes in the 1990s.Starks was a lengthy, athletic corner that NFL teams would covet, which was clear when the Baltimore Ravens selected him #10 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. Although he had a long and successful NFL career, Starks is most commonly remembered for his pick six in Super Bowl XXXV, that essentially iced the game for the Ravens. He retired in 2008.
In 2015, Starks returned to the Ravens as a scouting department intern. He also became a sports analyst for Comcast Sports that same year, a position he continues to hold to this day. Starks is also a well-versed Business student after receiving his bachelors from University of Miami and his Masters from George Washington University. He uses his business knowledge in running his successful limousine service called, Quanstar Limousine Service which operates in the Miami area. I see a future business partnership between his limo service and Edgerrin James nightclub.
6 Lamar Thomas
Lamar Thomas was a standout receiver for the Miami Hurricanes before taking his talents to the NFL. In the NFL, Thomas was nothing more than a third receiver for the Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins before his career ended prematurely due to injuries. Thomas was always a fun player to watch and could bust a big catch and run at any given time. He retired from the NFL in 2000.
Thomas stayed around football after retiring by being a color commentator for Comcast but was fired from his role in 2006 because of comments he made during an on-field brawl between Miami and FIU. Thomas essentially stated that FIU got what was coming to them for talking trash in the Orange Bowl, a place sacred to all current and former Miami players. Currently, Thomas is now sharing his football knowledge as the wide receivers coach for the University of Kentucky. It would be nice to see him one day coaching for The U if possible.
5 Carlos Huerta
There are members of great teams that always seem to get lost in the cobwebs of our minds when thinking back on the glory day memories. For many, Carlos Huerta is that person for the legendary Hurricane teams of the 1990's. Huerta set nearly all the kicking records during his time at Miami and was also clutch in the rare times that the team needed him. Although his NFL career wasn't much to talk about, Huerta should be considered the best kicker in Hurricanes history.
After leaving the game of football, Huerta has managed to stay pretty low profile in his retirement. Not much was heard from Huerta until 2009, when he reappeared for the filming of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary entitled, "The U" which provided an in-depth look at the arrogance and dominance of the 1990s Miami Hurricanes squads. Apparently, Huertas also gave acting a try as he played a rugby player in the 2012 movie "Post Tenebras Lux." Like all kickers, Huertas will continue to be the forgotten star of the 90s Canes.
4 Edgerrin James
Edgerrin James set many rushing records during his time at the University of Miami (1996-1998), and although many of those records were later broken by Willis McGahee, James is still held in the highest lore for former Hurricanes. After his time in Miami ended, James shredded NFL defenses for nearly a decade before retiring as one of the great backs of the 2000s. James, also known as "Edge," is the career leader for nearly every Colts rushing record in existence.
James' career came to a sad end when he lost his longtime love and mother of his four children to Leukemia. He later attempted to come back for one more season, but as the grief followed him, he failed to make a roster. Over the next several years, James spent his time traveling the world and enjoying being a tourist. He recently popped back into mainstream media when it was reported that James was opening up a new gentlemen's club in Miami called "One." It was reported that some of his former Hurricane teammates were invited to the club's opening.
3 Clinton Portis
One of those former Hurricane players that was invited to Edgerrin James' club opening was another former Miami running back, Clinton Portis. When James left Miami in 1998, Portis picked up the load for the Hurricanes rushing attack in 1999. After finishing the 2001 season with 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, Portis was drafted in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Spurned by immature financial decisions and crooked investment partners, Portis lost nearly all of his NFL earnings by 2015. Bankrupt and angry, Portis contemplated murdering the men who he had entrusted to manage his wealth and had left him with nothing. Portis actually waited with a pistol outside of the office of one of the men, showing just how close he was to giving in to his anger fueled urges.
Portis now earns a living as a broadcaster and making appearances, while also still finding time for his charity. Portis is a good guy and hopefully will regain financial independence in the near future.
2 Michael Barrow
Another dominant linebacker from the 1990s Hurricane era was Michael Barrow. Barrow was a fast, powerful player with a incredibly strong work ethic that allowed him to play with confidence and speed. Although he won 2 National Championships at Miami (1989, 1991), his personal best year was actually in 1992 when he was named a first-team All-American and Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Immediately after retiring from the NFL in 2005, Barrow returned to his roots as a assistant head coach of his former high school football team in Homestead, Florida. He then returned to the University of Miami as linebackers coach from 2007 to 2013. Most recently, however, Barrow has become a key cog in one of the NFL's most formidable defenses as linebackers coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2017, Barrow was also given the honor of being an Assistant Head Coach of the Seahawks in addition to running the linebackers.
1 Ray Lewis
Perhaps the greatest player to ever come out of the University of Miami is Ray Lewis. Lewis had an outstanding collegiate career before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. Lewis went on to receive 13 Pro-Bowl selections, 2 NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, and brought 2 Super Bowls to Baltimore before retiring in 2012.
Lewis has remained in the spotlight since his retirement as a sports broadcaster. He was originally with ESPN but was released by the company in 2016, however, Lewis recently signed a new broadcasting contract with Fox Sports. Lewis is also known for his motivational speeches (check out his youtube speeches, they are really powerful), political activism, and charitable contributions. Although he has a checkered past of his own, he has provided a sense of support and guidance to many other athletes, including Michael Phelps who credited Lewis with helping him find his life purpose and fueling his desire to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Lewis is one of a kind and will always have a place in and around football.