Top 10 Best Miami College Football Players of All Time
Since 1926, the University of Miami has been playing football. In their nearly 100-year history, they have taken home five national championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001). Throughout all of that time, the Hurricanes have had some incredibly talented players. Keep reading to learn about the best players in Miami football history.
Who Are the Best University of Miami Football Players of All Time?
- Sean Taylor
- Warren Sapp
- Ed Reed
- Ken Dorsey
- Michael Irvin
- Ray Lewis
- Edgerrin James
- Santana Moss
- Danny Stubbs
- Clinton Portis
1. Sean Taylor
- 2003 Big East Defensive Player of the Year
- 2003 All-American Selection
- Two All-Big East Selections (2002, 2003)
A player who ended up losing his life far too soon, Sean Taylor deserves the claim as the greatest Hurricanes player of all time. A defensive back, Taylor was a three-year player for the Hurricanes from 2001-2003 before heading to the NFL. In that time, he made two All-Big East teams (2002, 2003), was a 2003 All-American, won the 2003 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and won the 2003 Jack Tatum award.
Despite only playing three years, Taylor’s 14 career interceptions rank fifth in hurricanes history. He recorded 10 of those picks during the 2003 season, a school record for a single year. While Taylor was on campus, Miami went 35-3, winning the 2001 National Championship his freshman year along with the 2003 Orange Bowl. In the 2004 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) drafted Taylor with the fifth overall pick. Tragically, in November of 2007, Taylor was at home when his house was invaded, and he was shot by the intruders, passing away the next day. Both Miami and the Washington Commanders have continued to honor Taylor so that he is not forgotten.
2. Warren Sapp
- Two First Team All-Big East Selections (1993, 1994)
- Two All-American Selections (1993, 1994)
- 1994 Big East Defensive Player of the Year
Another terrific defender in Miami Hurricanes history is defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Another three-year player, Sapp played in the early 1990s (1992-1994) for the team before going on to be an NFL star. While he was in school, Sapp was a two-time First Team All-Big East Selection (1993, 1994), made two All-American teams (1993, 1994), won the 1994 Big East Defensive Player of the Year award, won the 1994 Lombardi Award, and the 1994 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, among others.
In 1994, Sapp registered 10.5 sacks and 84 tackles en route to having his best season. Those 10.5 sacks are the tenth most in a single season in Miami history. While they were unable to win a Bowl game with Sapp on the team, the team did have an impressive overall record of 30-6. After his college days, Sapp went 12th overall in the 1995 NFL draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sapp went on to be a Hall of Famer in the pros, helping Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl and being inducted into the Tampa Bay Ring of Honor.
3. Ed Reed
- 2001 Big East Defensive Player of the Year
- 2001 National Champion
- Two All-American selections (2000, 2001)
The third straight defensive player and another safety on this list is Ed Reed. Reed stayed in school for four years with Miami, playing on the team from 1998-2001. A two-time All-American (2000, 2001), Reed also took home the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award in 2001.
Throughout his Miami career, Reed racked up 21 interceptions, the most in school history. He has the second most (nine) and the third most (eight) picks in a single season in school history. From 1998-2001, the Canes went 41-8, including going 23-1 in the last two seasons, capping off the run with the 2001 National title. After winning the title, Reed was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 24th pick in the 2002 NFL draft. Reed went on to be a Super Bowl champion with the Ravens in 2013, and he was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor after his career.
4. Ken Dorsey
- 2001 Maxwell Award winner
- 2002 First-Team All-American
- Two Big East Offensive Player of the Year Awards (2001, 2002)
The first offensive player to make this list is quarterback Ken Dorsey. Dorsey was the Hurricanes’ quarterback for the 2001 National Championship, leading the team for four years from 1999-2002. His awards include the 2001 Maxwell Award, being a 2002 First Team All-American, two Big East Offensive Player of the Year Awards (2001, 2002), and a three-time All-Big East selection (2000-2002).
On Miami’s all-time passing leaderboards, Dorsey comes in at number two in passing yards (9,565) and number one in passing touchdowns (86). Along with helping to bring a championship to Miami in 2001, Dorsey led the Canes to an overall record of 44-6, winning the Gator Bowl in 1999 and the Sugar Bowl in 2000. While he was not an early-round pick, the San Francisco 49ers eventually drafted Dorsey in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He did not have a noteworthy NFL career, but his time in Miami will not soon be forgotten.
5. Michael Irvin
- 1987 National Champion
- 1986 First-Team All-American
- 1987 Second-Team All-American
Michael Irvin, the greatest wide receiver in Miami history rounds out the first half of this list. A mid-1980s star for the Hurricanes, Irvin was in Miami from 1985-1987. Irvin made two All-American teams during his time with the team, making the First Team in 1986 and the Second Team in 1987. He also helped the team win the National Title in 1987.
In his three years with the team, Irvin recorded the third most receiving yards in school history (2,423) and the most receiving touchdowns (26) in program history. Along with the 1987 National Championship, the Hurricanes went 33-3 during Irvin’s tenure with the team. After winning the championship in 1987, Irvin was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys 11th overall in the 1988 NFL draft. In the NFL, Irvin became one of the best wide receivers in league history, helping the Cowboys win three Super Bowls (1993, 1994, 1996) and earning an induction into the Ring of Honor.
6. Ray Lewis
- 1995 First Team All-American
- 1994 Third Team All-American
- Miami single-season record for tackles (160)
One of the best linebackers in NFL history, Ray Lewis kicks off the second half of this list. Before he was a star for the Baltimore Ravens, Lewis was leading the Miami defense for three years from 1993-1995. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he was an All-American, making the Third Team in 1994 and the First Team in 1995.
Arguably the best tackler in school history, Lewis racked up the sixth most tackles (388) in school history despite only playing three seasons. His 160 tackles in 1995 are the most in school history in a single season, and his 152 in 1994 are the second most. While Lewis was leading the defense, Miami went 27-8 from 1993-1995, making the 1993 Fiesta Bowl and the 1994 Orange Bowl. After forgoing his senior season, Lewis was drafted with the 26th overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 1996 NFL draft. He went on to lead the Ravens to two Super Bowls (2001, 2013) and be inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor.
7. Edgerrin James
- 1998 First-Team All-Big East
- Top three in Miami history in rushing yards, touchdowns
- 2009 Miami Sports Hall of Fame inductee
The best running back in Miami Hurricanes’ history is Edgerrin James. James was in the Miami backfield for three seasons from 1996-1998. He was named to the 1998 All-Big East First Team after his junior season, and he eventually was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
When it comes to his career rushing numbers, James has the second most rushing touchdowns (32) and the third most rushing yards (2,960) in school history. While he was leading the backfield, the team had a combined record of 23-12, winning the Carquest Bowl in 1996 and the MicronPC Bowl in 1998. Instead of coming back for his final year, James entered the NFL draft, and he was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He had a successful career for the Colts and is a member of the team's Ring of Honor.
8. Santana Moss
- 2000 Big East Offensive Player of the Year
- 2000 First-Team All-American Selection
- 2000 First-Team All-Big East
Santana Moss is the second wide receiver to make this list is another player who went on to be great in the NFL. Moss starred for the Canes in the late 1990s from 1997-2000. In 2000, he won the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, was a First Team All-American, and was a First Team All-Big East member.
As for his receiving numbers, Moss has the most receiving yards (2,547) and the seventh most receiving touchdowns (19) in Miami history. In his four years on the team, the Canes had an overall record of 34-14, winning three straight Bowl games from 1998-2000 (1998 Micron PC Bowl, 1999 Gator Bowl, 2000 Sugar Bowl). A few months after the victory in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, the New York Jets took Moss with the 16th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He went on to have a great career with the Jets and Washington Redskins (now Commanders).
9. Danny Stubbs
- 1987 First-Team All-American
- 1988 Second-Team All-American
- 1987 National Champion
The final defensive player and the penultimate player to make this list is Danny Stubbs. Stubbs was a member of the 1987 National Champion Miami team, playing four years for the team from 1984-1987. Twice he was named an All-American, earning First-Team honors in 1987 and Second-Team honors in 1988.
A player who really knew how to get after the quarterback, Stubbs holds the Miami school record for sacks with 39.5. His 17 sacks in 1986 are a single-season school record, and the 12 he had in 1985 are the fourth most. During his time in Coral Gables from 1984-1987, the team went 41-8, making a Bowl Game each year from 1984-1986 before winning the aforementioned national title in 1987. Not too long after winning the title in 1987, Stubbs was a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1988 NFL draft. He went on to help the team win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1989 and 1990.
10. Clinton Portis
- 2001 First-Team All-Big East
- 2001 National Champion
- Top ten in rushing yards, touchdowns in Miami history
Running Back Clinton Portis was a member of the Miami backfield from 1999-2001. Along with helping the team win the National Championship in 2001, Portis was a member of the First Team All-Big East that same season.
On Miami’s all-time rushing leaderboards, Portis’ 2,523 rushing yards are the fifth most in team history, and his 20 rushing touchdowns are good enough for tenth on the leaderboard. During his three seasons with the team, Miami went 30-5, winning the 1999 Gator Bowl and the 2000 Sugar Bowl before winning it all in 2001. Shortly after the national championship victory, Portis was drafted in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He would go on to play for the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) and was recently named one of their greatest players in franchise history.
While the players listed below did not quite make the cut for the top 10, they still deserve some recognition as honorable mentions. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
- Bennie Blades
- Jerome Brown
- Brad Kaaya
- Bernie Kosar
- Russell Maryland
- Dan Morgan
- Vinny Testaverde
- Gino Torretta
- Steve Walsh
- Reggie Wayne
Who is the best Miami quarterback of all time?
The greatest quarterback in Univeristy of Miami history is Ken Dorsey. Dorsey was a four-year player for the Canes in the early 2000s from 1999-2002. During that time, his awards won include the 2001 Maxwell Award, being a 2002 First Team All-American, two Big East Offensive Player of the Year Awards (2001, 2002), and a three-time All-Big East selection (2000-2002). He also led the team to the National Title in his junior season in 2001.
Who is the best Miami wide receiver of all time?
One of the most well-known wide receivers of all time, the greatest one in the University of Miami’s history, is Michael Irvin. Irvin starred for the Canes in the mid-1980s for three seasons from 1985-1987. He made two All-American teams during his time with the team, one of them being the First Team in 1986 and the other being Second Team in 1987. He also was a key player in helping the team win the National Title in 1987.
Who is the best Miami running back of all time?
The best running back in University of Miami team history is Edgerrin James. James was a three-year member of the Hurricanes football team in the late 1990s from 1996-1998. He was named to the 1998 All-Big East First Team after his junior season, and he eventually was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He ranks in the top three in Miami history in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.