The Miami Hurricanes have been one of the most successful college football teams in history, winning five national championships and churning out some of the most talented players to ever grace the gridiron. In honor of their impressive legacy, we’ve put together a list of the 10 greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. From their dominant defense to their unstoppable offense, these are the players who have made the Hurricanes one of the most feared teams in college football.
1) Michael Irvin
Michael Irvin is widely recognized as one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. The former wide receiver was a standout player at the University of Miami and played a major role in the school’s successes during the 1980s.
Irvin starred in the Hurricanes’ 1983 championship season, earning All-American honors in 1984 and 1985. He was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft and went on to become one of the most successful receivers in NFL history.
At the University of Miami, Irvin’s speed and powerful frame earned him the nickname The Playmaker. He often outran defenders for long gains and he had an impressive ability to make tough catches with pinpoint accuracy. He also had an infectious enthusiasm on and off the field, motivating his teammates to strive for excellence.
In his four years with the Hurricanes, Irvin racked up 143 receptions for 2,423 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and his No. 47 jersey was retired by Miami in 2006. His impact on the team and university is remembered by all those who knew him.
2) Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis is one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. A legendary linebacker, Lewis was a standout from his first season in Coral Gables, where he was named Big East Freshman of the Year. Over the course of his collegiate career, he earned All-Big East honors three times and was recognized as an All-American in 1995.
In 1995, Lewis played a pivotal role in leading the Hurricanes to their first National Championship in school history. In the title game against Nebraska, Lewis was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player, tallying 11 tackles, including four sacks. He capped off his collegiate career with yet another impressive performance in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State, recording 13 tackles and two sacks.
For his outstanding play, Lewis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He went on to have a successful NFL career, becoming a 12-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens. He will always be remembered as one of the greats from The U.
3) Warren Sapp
Widely considered to be one of the best players to ever come out of the University of Miami, Warren Sapp is a legendary Hurricanes star. A ferocious and disruptive defensive tackle, Sapp quickly developed a reputation for his ability to disrupt the opposition’s offense and terrorize opposing quarterbacks.
Sapp was an All-American at Miami and won the prestigious Lombardi Award in 1994. He was also selected as a first-team All-Big East member three times and had eight sacks during his senior season. He finished his college career with 36 tackles for loss and 21 sacks, both records that still stand today.
Sapp was drafted 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1995 NFL Draft and went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the league. During his nine years with the Buccaneers, Sapp earned seven Pro Bowl selections and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. He ended his career with 96.5 sacks and four interceptions, making him one of the most prolific pass-rushers of all time.
Warren Sapp will forever remain one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. He set numerous records at the school and then continued his excellence in the NFL, where he became an All-Pro player. His legacy will live on in the hearts of Hurricanes fans everywhere.
4) Ed Reed
Ed Reed is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in Miami Hurricanes history. He was a four-year starter from 1998-2001 and a two-time first-team All-American selection. During his time at Miami, Reed played free safety and was known for his ball-hawking ability, as he had an impressive 21 interceptions during his college career.
Reed won the 2001 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, and was named a consensus All-American. He finished his career with 238 tackles and those aforementioned 21 interceptions. The former Hurricane was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019 and currently ranks sixth all-time in interceptions in Miami history.
In the NFL, Reed would go on to become an even bigger star. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro selection, the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, and a Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. He also holds the NFL record for most interception return yards (1,590) and is tied for the most interception return touchdowns (7).
Reed remains one of the most beloved players to ever suit up for the Miami Hurricanes and will forever be remembered as one of their all-time greats.
5) Jerome Brown
Jerome Brown is widely considered one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. A defensive tackle, Brown was a three-time All-American, two-time National Champion, and winner of the Lombardi Award. He was also the first Hurricane ever to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, going ninth overall in 1987 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brown was a dominant force on the Hurricanes defense, recording 127 tackles and 20 sacks during his time at Miami. His leadership skills were just as impressive as his on-field production, and he served as a mentor to younger players while helping to shape the team’s culture. In 1986, Brown was a key contributor in Miami’s championship run, recording six sacks and three forced fumbles in the regular season.
Beyond his on-field performance, Brown is remembered for his generosity and kindness off the field. He would regularly make visits to local schools to talk with children about his life story and to encourage them to pursue their dreams. Brown tragically died in an automobile accident in 1992 at the age of 27, but his legacy lives on at Miami and beyond.
6) Jimmy Johnson
When it comes to the Miami Hurricanes, there are few names more legendary than Jimmy Johnson. A two-time national champion and two-time Big East Coach of the Year, Johnson led the Hurricanes to an impressive 86-34 record during his five-year tenure from 1984 to 1988.
Before taking over at Miami, Johnson spent five seasons as the head coach at Oklahoma State. His success with the Cowboys earned him the chance to lead the Hurricanes, where he quickly made a name for himself by leading Miami to a share of the national championship in 1987. He would go on to lead the Hurricanes to their second national title in 1989.
Johnson’s success at Miami was due in large part to his ability to recruit. He brought in several high-profile players, including quarterback Vinny Testaverde, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and linebacker Micheal Barrow. He also developed several of his players into NFL stars, such as running back Leonard Conley, cornerback Darryl Pounds and wide receiver Lamar Thomas.
Johnson left Miami after the 1988 season to become head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, where he won two Super Bowls and helped transform the Cowboys into one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. His influence can still be felt today in Miami, as his successor Dennis Erickson also led the Hurricanes to a pair of national championships in 1991 and 1992.
Jimmy Johnson is certainly one of the greatest coaches in Miami Hurricanes history, and his impact on the program is undeniable.
7) Gino Torretta
Gino Torretta is widely regarded as one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. Torretta was a star quarterback for the University of Miami from 1989-1992, leading the Hurricanes to an undefeated national championship season in 1991.
A two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Torretta was the leader of Miami’s high-powered offense, throwing for 7,690 yards and 57 touchdowns while completing 63.3% of his passes. He was a first-team All-American selection in 1992, and finished third in the Heisman voting that same year.
Torretta ended his collegiate career with a perfect 3-0 record against rivals Florida State, and his 55-touchdown passes set a school record that still stands today. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010, and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players in Miami history.
8) Steve Walsh
One of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time is Steve Walsh. A three-year starter for the Hurricanes from 1986 to 1988, Walsh led the Canes to their first National Championship in 1987.
Walsh was a two-time All-American and won the Johnny Unitas Award as a senior. He threw for 6,160 yards and 49 touchdowns during his career, including 2,249 yards and 21 touchdowns in 1987. His most memorable moment came in the ’87 championship game when he threw the winning touchdown pass to Michael Irvin with just 28 seconds left.
Walsh went on to have a successful NFL career, playing nine seasons and making one Pro Bowl appearance with the New Orleans Saints in 1993. He also had brief stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
Despite his success in the pros, Walsh will always be remembered as one of the greatest Hurricanes of all time. His leadership, poise and talent helped lead Miami to its first National Championship, and his name will forever be etched in Miami Hurricanes history.
9) Bernie Kosar
No list of the greatest Miami Hurricanes would be complete without mentioning Bernie Kosar. One of the most celebrated quarterbacks to ever play at the University of Miami, Kosar led the Hurricanes to a national championship in 1983 and a Fiesta Bowl victory the following season.
Kosar began his college career as a backup to Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, but he soon seized the starting role for the Hurricanes. He was a three-time All-American, two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year, and finished his career with 6,058 yards passing and 46 touchdowns.
In addition to leading the Hurricanes to two bowl victories, Kosar was also known for his incredible poise and leadership. He was an exceptionally accurate passer who was able to keep his cool under pressure and make big plays when it mattered most. In fact, his performance in the 1984 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska is regarded as one of the greatest displays of clutch quarterbacking in college football history.
Kosar’s accomplishments as a Hurricane made him one of the most beloved athletes in Miami history. To this day, he is still held in high regard and is remembered as one of the best players to ever don a Miami uniform.
10) Vinny Testaverde
Vinny Testaverde is widely considered one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes of all time. He played for the University of Miami from 1982 to 1986, and during his college career he had a major impact on the program.
Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy in 1986, the same year he led the Hurricanes to a 12-0 season and a National Championship. He was an incredibly talented quarterback, throwing for 5,957 yards and 48 touchdowns in his college career. He also broke multiple school records, including most touchdown passes in a season (27) and most career touchdown passes (48).
In addition to his incredible talent on the field, Testaverde was an exceptional leader for the Hurricanes. He consistently motivated his team and inspired them to play their best. His combination of talent, leadership, and work ethic make him one of the most beloved players in Miami Hurricanes history.