Jersey numbers carry with them a certain tradition. Every defensive back recruit who loves the Hurricanes has respect for Sean Taylor’s No. 26. Running backs know Willis McGahee wore No. 2 at “The U.” A Miami linebacker wearing No. 52, whether he likes it or not, is carrying on the legacy of Ray Lewis.
So this 2017 freshman class — nearly all of which is on campus and has been assigned a jersey number — may want to know some of the players, some well known and some long forgotten, who came before them.
Connecting the most recent, most famous and most obscure players to wear the jerseys these freshmen inherit, with partial assists from UM’s archives, pictorial and otherwise; Google, with its infinite power and the official (albeit highly incomplete) historical rosters on UM’s website.
I hope the diehards reading this are flooded with memories. I hope the current players reading this learn something. That’d be cool, too.
1 – DE D.J. Johnson (6-5, 240)
The last non-defensive back to wear No. 1 was linebacker Jessie Armstead (1989-92), a member of Miami’s “Bermuda Triangle” unit with Darrin Smith and Micheal Barrow. There’s a memory for you. More recently, Artie Burns (2013-15), cornerback Brandon Harris (2008-11) and safety Kenny Phillips (2005-08) have gone uno.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Mark Walton currently wears it, following receivers Allen Hurns (2011-14), Roscoe Parrish (2001-04) and Daryl Jones (1997-2001) and running back Danyell Ferguson (1992-96).
In case you were wondering: Since teams can carry up to 105 players and only 1-99 are in use, NCAA rules let teammates wear the same jersey number. However, they cannot appear on the field at the same time. That’s why on the 2014-15 Canes, running back Walton and cornerback Burns each could be “1” — they just couldn’t play on special teams together.
2 — CB Trajan Bandy (5-9, 180)
Most recent Hurricane to wear this jersey, and a solid on-the-field, off-the-field example to follow: Bandy’s fellow Miami-Columbus High alum, safety Deon Bush (2012-15). Bush had injury trouble in his first couple seasons, but wound up being a valuable starter and fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. Like Bush, Bandy is likely to have a role immediately in a rebuilding UM secondary.
Heart-and-soul linebackers Jon Beason (2003-06) and Rohan Marley (1992-94) add more weight to the legacy. Oh, and don’t forget about Kenny Calhoun, who broke up the 2-point try in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Miami doesn’t win its first national title without a game-saving play from No. 2.
3 — WR Mike Harley (5-9, 160)
Harley is taking the jersey of Stacy Coley (2013-16), one of the most impressive receivers in program history. Coley (6-0, 193) finished his career with 166 receptions, second all-time at UM, 20 touchdowns (tied for fourth) and 2,218 yards (fifth). Imagine if he didn’t lose about a season and a half to injuries. Anyway, Harley can probably match him in the speed department.
UM Sports Hall of Famer Randal “Thrill” Hill (1987-90) also wore the shirt. Like Coley, Hill was a monster as a freshman. The Hurricanes hope Harley is the same, and they hope like Hill, he wins two national titles. Another national champ, Jason Geathers (2000-03), was No. 3 for Miami. Geathers, a Spanish River alum, became an excellent receiver, linebacker and kick returner in the CFL a decade ago. In a 2008 Post story, his CFL GM touted him as “one of the best athletes this league has to offer.”
3 – DB Dee Delaney (6-1, 193), redshirt senior transfer
The last defensive player to wear it was cornerback Tracy Howard (2012-15). A former five-star recruit who went undrafted, Howard is with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Delaney, a two-star recruit who was an FCS All-American the last two years at The Citadel, had mid-round draft stock if he came out last year. With a good season after transferring to UM – he’s expected to start, at least – someone’s probably scooping him on draft day.
Howard played in 15 games last year with the Browns, was cut, and recently hooked on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. More Canes connections: the Browns have given big-money rookie contracts to David Njoku (four years, $9.5 million) and Duke Johnson (four years, $3.1 million) in the last three seasons.
4 — WR Jeff Thomas (5-10, 175)
Most recently worn by receiver Phillip Dorsett (2012-15), who in 2014 set the program record in the 40-yard dash with a hand-timed 4.21 seconds (Sam Shields had the old record, at 4.26). Thomas, no slouch, was named Fastest Man at The Opening recruiting combine last year. Dorsett is eighth in UM history in receptions (121), touchdowns (17) and yards (2,132).
Another No. 4 Thomas wouldn’t mind following: Devin Hester (2003-05), one of the most dangerous return men the sport has ever seen. As good as Hester was, the No. 4 sits in Miami’s Ring of Honor not for a wideout, but for quarterback Steve Walsh (1987-89), a two-time national champion.
5 — S Amari Carter (6-2, 197)
Linebacker Jermaine Grace (2013-15) was a speed demon at outside linebacker before UM dismissed him last summer. Carter is about the same size as Grace when he showed up as a freshman; Grace, now with the Atlanta Falcons, had trouble putting on weight. Another hard-hitting player who wore No. 5: Greg Threat (2002-05), who led UM in tackles in 2004 as a safety. Two excellent comps for Carter.
5 — QB N’Kosi Perry (6-4, 185)
On the offensive side of the ball, the shirt of three all-time UM greats: receiver Andre Johnson (1999-2002), running back Edgerrin James (1996-98) and running back Melvin Bratton (1983-86). Quite a trio. If anyone inside the Hurricanes football building does not believe Perry has a chance to be just as special, they have yet to come forward. We’ll see Perry for the first time when Miami opens camp Aug. 1.
If a quarterback has ever worn No. 5 at Miami, it happened more than a generation ago: no such player is listed on UM’s online rosters that go back to 1989, and reviews of historical photos (admittedly an incomplete way to assess) turned up nothing. @mattyports if you can think of anyone.
Also, shout-out to tight end Stan Dobard (2013-16) and the running backs Mike James (2009-13) and Javarris James (2006-09), who are possibly but not certainly related through a mutual cousin, Edgerrin James. Everyone in the previous sentence wore No. 5.
6 – CB Jhavonte Dean (6-2, 185), junior college transfer
Dean inherits the number from safety Jamal Carter (2013-16), who is now with the Denver Broncos. Any Miami cornerback wearing No. 6 can look up to Antrel Rolle (2001-04), but Dean doubly so: he played for the same high school (Homestead-South Dade) as a guy who became an All-American, national champion, Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro-Bowler. Dean, a transfer from Blinn College in Texas, has two years at UM to carve his own path.
11 – LB De’Andre Wilder (6-2, 195)
Not a traditional linebacker number, but a speedy, potential coverage specialist like Wilder could make it look good. The last defensive player to wear it was nose tackle Michael Wyche (2014-15), who had an undistinguished career. Other recent defenders to don the sticks include defensive end David Gilbert (2013) and cornerback Larry Hope (2012).
The one-one is the domain of quarterbacks, from Jack Allison (2016) and quarterback Ryan Williams (2011-14) to Ken Dorsey (1999-2002), Scott Covington (1995-98) and Frank Costa (1990-94).
Also looks good on a wideout. After four years in No. 80, Rashawn Scott (2011-15) switched No. 11 for his senior year, and that 695-yard, five-touchdown season is a reason he hooked on with the Miami Dolphins. Scott’s health had more to do with his resurgence than the jersey change. Dale Dawkins (1987-89) won two championships in it and played four years in the league.
13 — WR/ATH Deejay Dallas (5-10, 200)
Largely a special teams or quarterback number, last worn by quarterback/H-back Gray Crow (2012-15) and before that, punter Dalton Botts (2011-12). Maybe Dallas will have a similar path as defensive back Ryan Hill (2006-10), who began his career at wideout and special teams, and switched to defense as a junior.
This spring, Miami’s coaches gave Dallas a similar first-year role, catching passes and returning kicks and seeing if they like him there, or want to move him to an area of greater need. Both Hill and Dallas were four-star prospects recruited by some of the top schools in the nation.
Hill was also frank in describing the program’s problems under Randy Shannon. Mark Richt hopes Dallas won’t have similar allegations.
17 — QB Cade Weldon (6-3, 212)
The most recent offensive player handed this jersey was receiver/award-winning artist D’Mauri Jones (2012-15). The last quarterback was Stephen Morris (2010-13), who threw for a school-record 566 yards in a game in 2012. Morris finished third in career yards (7,896) and is fourth in attempts and completions, and 10th in completion percentage. Perry may be the real deal, but Weldon has this advantage in Miami’s impending QB race: he enrolled in January, five months before his classmate.
17 — LB Waynmon Steed (5-11, 223)
A number worn most recently worn by linebackers with big personalities: Tyriq McCord (2012-15), who always had fun with the media, noted journal-keeper Willie Williams (2004-06) and D.J. Williams (2000-02), who told plenty of stories in “The U” 30-for-30 documentary and now sells Miami-themed gear. UM Sports Hall of Famer Ronnie Lippett, a defensive back, wore it from 1979-81. He talked a little trash, too.
18 or 38, unofficially – P Zach Feagles (6-2, 210)
UM hasn’t confirmed, so here are two good guesses. Jeff Feagles, who had a 22-year NFL career and is the only punter in the UM Sports Hall of Fame, wore No. 38 as a Hurricane. He wore eight different numbers for five different NFL teams, and No. 18 during his final four years with the New York Giants. As a high-schooler Zach Feagles wore No. 18, which Dad wore as they celebrated Super Bowl XLII in 2008.
22 — RB Robert Burns (5-11, 215)
Last scholarship offensive player was running back Mike James (as a freshman in 2009), but the last regular was Tony Gaiter (1994-96), who played tailback his first two years and wound up a sixth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots after a breakout senior season at wide receiver. The Hurricanes hope Burns becomes at least the equal of safety Sheldrick Redwine, who has had No. 22 on the other side the last two years.
25 — S Derrick Smith (6-2, 200)
Most recently, the number of cornerback Adrian Colbert (2016), a one-year contributor who signed with the San Francisco 49ers and documents for his social media followers the adventures of a small Lego man named Peter (yes, really). Before that? Dallas Crawford (2011-15), who played running back and safety. He held for field-goal attempts but was never used in a trick play in that setting. He did, though, put those high school quarterback skills to use during “The Return.” He fielded the initial kick and threw two perfect laterals to keep the play alive.
In year one, expect Smith to be a hard-hitting special teamer, as both of those players were during their careers.
A hodge-podge of other players who wore No. 25 at Miami: defensive back Dennis Scott (1993-97), fullback Talib Humphrey (1999), defensive backs Jared McClure (2000) and Alfonso Marshall (2001-03), running back Bobby Washington (2004), defensive back Joe Tolliver (2005) and kicker/punter Matt Bosher (2006-10). If you could recite all those players by memory, I’d like to know what else your brain holds.
44 — LB Bradley Jennings Jr. (6-1, 230)
Jennings’ father wore the same digits at Florida State (1997-2001). At Miami? Not counting defensive end Demetrius Jackson (2014) and fullback Walter Tucker (2013-15), the last full-time linebacker to wear No. 44 was Eddie Johnson (2011-12).
Miami would probably be satisfied if Jennings had the same career as Colin McCarthy (2006-10), who finished with 308 tackles and was a second-team All-ACC player as a junior. Leon Williams (2001-04) was a fine player for UM, while Dan Morgan (1997-2000), the school’s career tackles leader (532), is the best linebacker to wear the number.
55 — OL Navaughn Donaldson (6-6, 350)
Last to wear it: O-lineman Ben Jones (2008-12), a member of UM’s heralded 2008 Miami Northwestern signing class. He was mostly a scout-team player. Donaldson, a Miami Central grad, enrolled early and impressed coaches with his size, strength and athleticism. He is expected to push for a starting job at right tackle.
57 — OL Kai-Leon Herbert (6-5, 285)
Defensive end Allen Bailey (2007-10) comes to mind, but to find a non-snapper offensive lineman wearing No. 57 you’d have to go all the way back to John Abreu (1995-98). Perhaps Herbert can play O-line with the ferocity of another No. 57, linebacker Bernard “Tiger” Clark (1989).
65 — OL Corey Gaynor (6-4, 285)
Like Gaynor, Brandon Linder (2010-13) was a rugged, nasty interior O-lineman from Broward County. Gaynor is expected to play center at UM. Linder plays center now for the Jacksonville Jaguars, after manning right guard for UM. Another excellent guard who wore the Hurricanes’ No. 65: Martin Bibla (1997-2001). With senior Nick Linder and junior Tyler Gauthier ahead of him, Gaynor could spend this season prepping for a greater role in the coming years.
67 — OL Zach Dykstra (6-6, 300)
Without question, the best No. 67 in Miami history was defensive tackle Russell Maryland (1988-89). But since we’re talking offensive lineman, Alex Gall (2013-16) comes to mind. He had a quiet, injury-riddled career until coming on strong in the final month of his senior year. An injury to starting center Nick Linder put him in the middle for the stretch run, which seemed to help UM’s line click. The Canes went 9-4 and won their first bowl win since 2006, thanks to a line that struggled in the middle of the year but wound up being decent. Dykstra will likely redshirt.
75 – OT Zalon’tae Hillery (6-6, 287)
The last two offensive linemen to wear it: Brendan Loftus (2015-16) and Jared Wheeler (2009-13). Loftus saw spot action before transferring. Wheeler was a valuable sixth man who played all positions along the line, mostly guard. Hillery is seen as a long-term prospect with good upside, and seems due to redshirt.
83 – WR Evidence Njoku (6-5, 200)
A classic wideout number, 83 was the jersey Kevin Beard (1998-2002) and Braxton Berrios (2014-present) wore as freshmen before single-digit numbers became available. Sam Shields (2006-09) wore it as an underclassman, before switching to defensive back. Njoku wore No. 83 in high school, so maybe he wants to make it his own. He’ll have to crack a deep rotation at wideout first, but his length and leaping ability — he’s David Njoku’s brother, as you may know — are intriguing.
The most recent standout who wore it long-term: Sinorice Moss (2002-05), who combined with brother Santana for 28 touchdowns at UM. And who could forget defensive lineman Jim Burt (1978-80), a UM Sports Hall of Famer.
To give the real diehards something to chew on, other past 83s include Dietrich Clausell (listed as a receiver in 1990, linebacker in 1991, tight end in 1992-93), receivers Andy Atrio (1994-95) and Audric Dodds (1996), defensive back Dennis Dalton (1997), tight ends James Sikora (1999) and Aaron Greeno (2000) and receiver Kendal Thompkins (2008-12).
88 – TE Brian Polendey (6-6, 230)
Among scholarship tight ends, Jake O’Donnell (2012-15) most recently wore it. Bubba Franks (1997-2000) had an outstanding Miami career. But the No. 88 tight end jersey truly belongs to Jeremy Shockey (2000-01), until further notice. Polendey, who appears in the image at the top of this post, enters his freshman year as Miami’s third-stringer.
97 – DE Jon Garvin (6-4, 235)
Miami has high hopes for Garvin, which means they hope he’s at least better than the last three defensive ends to wear this jersey: Dwayne Hoilett (2012-13), Adewale Ojomo (2007-11) and Rhyan Anderson (2004-06). A No. 97 defensive end who had a solid UM career: Anthony Hamlet (1987-91), who played at Atlantic High, a few towns over from Garvin’s Lake Worth High.
? — DT Jon Ford (6-4, 250)
We’ll have to wait on this one, since Ford won’t enroll until Aug. 1.
We know is his high school number, 44, is taken. Jennings got to it first.
If he wants something ending in 4 (sounds like “Ford,” you see) that is not spoken for, may we suggest 54, a mean-looking number for a D-lineman.
He could also go with positional classics like 92, recently worn by Courtel Jenkins (2014-16), 96 (Curtis Porter, 2009-13) or 98 (Al-Quadin Muhammad, 2013).
Plenty of options, Jon Ford. Make one of them your own.
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