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Douglas Kroll | | August 29, 2014

Pillars of the Program: Miami (Fla.)

Pillars of the Program: Miami (Fla.) football

The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...

It's hard to remember football at Miami before the likes of Bernie Kosar, Michael Irvin and Vinny Testaverde showed up on campus in Coral Gables to help get the Canes get over the hump and begin a stretch of five national titles in 19 seasons. You could do three different Pillars of the Program just with Miami -- one for the 80s, 90s and 2000s. But that's what makes this so fun -- there's only space for eight. The Canes hold NFL draft records, including most first-round selections in a single draft and most consecutive drafts with at least one first-round selection. That's a lot of stars, a lot of numbers ... a whole bunch of pillars.

Michael Irvin
Receiver | 1986-87
♦ School-record 26 TD receptions
♦ Career: 143 rec., 2,423 yds
Ed Reed
Defensive Back | 1998-2001
♦ Two-time All-American (2000-01)
♦ School records: 21 INT, 4 INT TDs
Bernie Kosar
Quarterback | 1983-84
♦ Won UM's first national title in 1983
♦ School-record 3,642 yards in '84
Ted Hendricks
Defensive End | 1966-68
♦ Three-time All-American (1966-68)
♦ Career: 327 tackles, 12 FR
Edgerrin James
Running Back | 1996-98
♦ School record 299 yds. vs. UCLA
♦ Career: 2,960 yds., 32 rush TDs
Ray Lewis
Linebacker | 1993-95
♦ Two-time All-American (1994-95)
♦ Led Big East in tackles in 1994-95
Warren Sapp
Defensive Tackle | 1992-94
♦ Lombardi, Nagurski winner (1994)
♦ Two-time All-American (1993-94)
Vinny Testaverde
Quarterback | 1982-86
♦ 1986 Heisman Trophy
♦ Career: 6,058 pass yds., 48 TDs

Ted Hendricks
Long before Miami became known as a factory for top-notch defensive talent, Ted Hendricks dominated for the Hurricanes as a stand-up defensive end from 1966-68. “The Mad Stork” finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting his senior season after racking up 318 career total tackles – a record that still stands among lineman at UM.

And if you are wondering why the nickname, check out how tall and skinny he was. Hendricks, a College Football Hall of Fame member, holds the UM record for career fumble recoveries with 12, which was one of the many reasons why his No. 89 was one of the first to be retired by the Canes in 1997.

Edgerrin James
There was a stretch in the late 1990s and early 2000s where Miami seemed to churn out an NFL running back every year. Edgerrin James was the first in that line, stepping into the starting lineup in 1997. He turned out to be one of the only bright spots on a team that went 5-6, as James rushed for 1,098 yards despite starting only six games.

A year later in 1998, “Edge” became the first UM player to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons when he gained 1,416 yards on the ground, including a school-record 299 yards against No. 3 UCLA in the final game of the season.

James’ 35 total touchdowns are still tied for the school record with Stephen McGuire.

Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis is considered one of the best players to ever play the linebacker position. It didn’t take long for Lewis to make an impact. He started the final six games of his freshman season and totaled 81 tackles in that stretch. But then came his sophomore season, when he led the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense and the Big East with 153 tackles.

His speed was lethal as a middle linebacker and it helped him finish second in the Butkus Award voting his junior season with his 160 tackles. Lewis accumulated the fifth-most tackles in school history despite leaving after his monster junior season. Oh, and he didn’t invent the swagger that everyone talks about when it comes to “The U”. The guys in the 80s did that. But Lewis carried that torch with his speeches and still does with the current Canes.

Warren Sapp
It’s easy to throw around the word “dominate” in the game of college football, but Warren Sapp was the definition of the word during his junior season of 1994. Sapp registered 10.5 sacks and 84 tackles en route to winning the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player), Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker) and the Willis Award (best defensive lineman).

His play terrorized quarterbacks. His 25 pressures of the QB helped the Canes become the nation’s No. 1 defense. This batch of highlights says it all, and if there’s one word to describe his play? Swarming.

Vinny Testaverde
Kids from Long Island, New York, going down to school at Miami was nothing new, even back in the 80s. One of them playing football as the Canes’ starting quarterback? Not so much. Testaverde’s senior season was one of the best the school has ever seen. Testaverde led the Canes to the national championship game with 26 touchdown passes en route to the Heisman Trophy.

A game against No. 1 Oklahoma in 1986 cemented Testaverde’s legacy. He completed four touchdown passes and had a school-record 14 consecutive completions in a 28-16 win against the Sooners.

 “In 21 years, I have never seen a better quarterback,” OU coach Barry Switzer said of Vinny from Elmont.