The Miami Hurricanes boast three talented true-freshman linebackers who have helped Mark Richt’s crew get out to a 4-2 start this season. The trio of Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman is joined by fellow first-year receiver Ahmmon Richards, a former star at Wellington High, who has 359 yards and a touchdown catch on the season.
The contributions from these impressive youngsters bring to mind some of the better freshman seasons in University of Miami history. Here are 12 of the best seasons by some well known Canes freshmen:
In 2012, Johnson had one of the better seasons in Miami history, regardless of class. As a freshman, the Miami Norland grad rushed for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns, both freshman records. He also set the single-season school record for kick-return yards with 892, returning two for touchdowns. He was named a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the freshman All-American kick returner by the Football Writers Association of America. His 2,060 all-purpose yards were the second most in team history.
The Canes’ current QB put together a fantastic freshman campaign in 2014, throwing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 58.5 percent of his passes. Kaaya’s passing yardage was good enough for second best in the ACC and his 26 TDs were tops in the conference.
The Playmaker holds the Hurricanes’ career record for touchdown receptions with 26, and he aided his record-setting efforts by getting off to a fast start as a freshman in 1985. As a redshirt freshman, Irvin caught 46 passes for 840 yards and nine touchdowns. As we all know, that was just the beginning.
One of the best running backs on a long list of players to come out of the University of Miami, Portis’ freshman season in 1999 is among the more impressive freshman campaigns in program history. Portis ran for 838 yards on 143 attempts, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, adding eight touchdowns on the ground and another two as a receiver.
Devin Hester was a one-dimensional player in his freshman season, but that one dimension just happened to make him one of the best in the history of the sport. Devin Hester caught only four passes for 116 yards and rushed four times for 26 yards, but he made a major impact on special teams. Hester had 18 kick returns during the 2003 season for a total of 517 return yards — an average of 28.7 yards per return. He also added a return TD in a season that served as a preview of what was to come.
McGuire holds the Hurricanes record for most career rushing touchdowns and showed that touchdown-scoring ability in his first year. In his freshman season of 1989, McGuire rushed 106 times for 519 yards, but found the end zone 10 times.
Wayne finished his four-year career with the most receptions in school history, and he leads the next-closest receiver by nearly 30 catches. As a freshman in 1997, Wayne caught 48 balls for 640 yards and two touchdowns.
Morgan joined the Hurricanes as a running back after toting the rock for 907 yards and four touchdowns on 122 carries in just five games in his senior season at Taravella High School in Coral Springs. But after his move to linebacker as a UM freshman in 1997, Morgan made 105 tackles, four for a loss, notched three sacks, and forced a fumble while leading the team with 68 solo tackles. He was named a second-team freshman All-American by the Sporting News. Morgan went on to set the Hurricanes’ career record for tackles with 532.
Lewis is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in school history, and he started his collegiate career with a bang. As a freshman, Lewis made 81 tackles and posted two sacks, earning him a spot on the freshman All-American team. Lewis started the final five games of the season and made an impact against both the run and the pass, adding four pass deflections to his stat line. At UM, he would go on to post two seasons with over 150 tackles.
As a redshirt freshman in 1998, Reed started every game at safety and led the team with two interceptions. Reed also made 90 tackles that season, good enough for the most in the Miami secondary, broke up seven passes, and forced a team-high four fumbles. Reed went on to become the school’s all-time leader in interceptions with 21.
As Coley finishes up an impressive UM career, his first season remains one of the more impressive from a Miami wide out. In 2013, Coley caught 33 passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. His playmaking abilities were also used sparingly in the run game — as he racked up 80 yards and a touchdown on two carries — and in the return game, where he returned 22 kicks for 570 yards and 10 punts for 220 yards.
As a freshman in 2001, Gore gained 562 yards on only 62 carries, which left him averaging a ridiculous 9.1 yards per carry. He also found the end zone five times.
In 1983, Kosar started at quarterback as a redshirt freshman and led the Hurricanes to an 11-1 record, an Orange Bowl victory against Nebraska and their first national championship. Kosar completed 201 passes for 2,329 yards on 61.5 percent passing and also threw for 15 touchdowns.