The Miami Hurricanes are one of the tight end schools across the country, competing with Notre Dame, Stanford and a few other schools for the title of Tight End U.
For me, the Hurricanes really didn’t get started until that 1983 season when they upset top ranked Nebraska for the national championship.
Since that season, these are the notable tight ends that played for the Hurricanes:
1983: Glenn Dennison was Miami’s tight end in this first national championship season for the Canes. This season, Dennison caught 54 passes which led the team in receptions. Dennison was not overly huge at 6-3, 225, but he was a major target for redshirt freshman Bernie Kosar in 1983 and for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly in 1982. He finished his college days with 106 receptions and followed that up by being drafted in the 2nd round by the New York Jets. Now, the Jets had star Tight End Mickey Shuler but Dennison caught 16 passes as a rookie. After that, he only played a couple of games with the Washington Redskins and caught 2 passes. He dropped out of sight after that.
Bernie Kosar and an explosive offense put the Hurricanes on the map and Dennison was the
beginning of a rich Tight End tradition. Dennison is also from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania which was the home town of none other than Joe Willie Namath.
1984 through 1986: From Jacksonville, Florida came another tight end, Willie Smith. Like Dennison, Smith was not a huge target at tight end. He was 6-2, 235 which was still big enough to create mismatches. Smith caught 66 passes as a sophomore in 1984 and then 48 in 1985. Smith was a consensus All American in 1985. During his time in Miami, Smith hauled in 117 receptions for 1,544 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was a 10th round draft pick in 1986, but wasn’t much of a factor in the NFL.
1984-1987: The 6-3, 250 Alfredo Roberts was a freshman in the 1983 season, but he redshirted. Roberts may not bring up many memories for Hurricane or college football fans, but that was due to his mostly being a blocking tight end. Roberts played 4 seasons and only caught 29 passes.
Roberts was an 8th round draft pick and he played 5 seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys where he reunited with his college coach Jimmy Johnson. He had more receiving success in the NFL than he did at Miami.
After football, Roberts got into coaching football.
1984-1987: Along with Alfredo Roberts, the talented Hurricanes also had Charles Henry who was 6-4, 230 and from St Petersburg, Florida. Henry caught 39 passes with most of them coming in his last 2 seasons.
Henry signed as NFL free agent with the Miami Dolphins. But, he was only in the NFL one year and then played in Europe. He only caught 2 passes total in the NFL.
1988: The defending national champions saw the coming of the Chudzinski brothers in 1988. The older Chudzinski, Pete caught 30 passes in 1988.
1988-1990: Randy Bethel was also a tight end with the Chudzinski brothers and he caught 44 passes in 3 seasons. Bethel is the father of current Cane defensive end Pat Bethel. The 1988 season was Bethel’s best with 5 touchdown receptions. Dad was also a defensive end as a recruit and the Canes converted him to tight end.
1989 – 1990: Younger brother Rob Chudzinski caught 41 passes in 2 seasons. The Canes were
just loaded at wide receiver back in these years with Lamar Thomas, Wesley Carroll, Horace Copeland and Randal Hill, so receptions were hard to come by. Rob Chudzinski is currently the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
1990 – 1992: Coleman Bell caught 71 passes in 3 seasons with his best season coming in 1992 when he caught 43 balls. In the 1992 season, Miami quarterback Gino Torretta liked to spread the ball around with talented wide receivers Horace Copeland and Lamar Thomas sharing the team lead with 47 receptions each. Bell wasn’t very tall at around 6’2″ and he only played one season in the NFL.
The Hurricanes took a few years off from talented tight ends before culminating into a tight end golden era if ever so briefly.
1997 – 1999: The 1997 season was a bitter disappointment for the Hurricanes and they finished the season with a dismal 5-6 record. But, that team had a lot of up and coming stars like wide receivers Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Daryl Jones. But, they had a tight end from the flat, dry lands of West Texas named Bubba Franks. In 3 seasons as a Hurricane, Franks caught a combined 77 passes and 12 touchdowns. Franks was huge at about 6-6, 260 and the first of a great new batch of tight ends. Franks was the 14th player taken in the 1st round of the 2000 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers where he had a great career.
2000 – 2001: Many people think that the 2001 version of the Miami Hurricanes were the best team ever. While that battle will never be won because it can never be proven which team was best of Jeremy Shockey was a weapon and one of the best, also. Shockey only played two seasons at Miami, but he was a top talent like Bubba Franks. Shockey was an All American in 2001 and led the team in receptions. The Oklahoma native bolted for the NFL after his redshirt sophomore season and he was picked in the 1st round also with the 14th pick by the New York Giants. Jeremy Shockey was a terror in the NFL playing for the Giants, Saints and the Panthers in 10 seasons and 4 Pro Bowls.
all time, this team was really talented. Tight end
2001 – 2003: Just when you think it couldn’t get any better at tight end for the Hurricanes, along came Kellen Winslow Jr. The son of San Diego Charger Hall of Fame tight end of the same name, Winslow was a super talent in his own right. Winslow set Miami tight end receiving records with 57 receptions in 2002 which were good for 726 yards and 8 touchdowns. During his junior season, Winslow hauled in 60 catches. Then, he declared for the NFL. While not quite as big as his father was, the 6-4, 240 Winslow had a lot of ability and he was drafted in the 1st round with the 6th overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. Winslow Jr had a nice NFL career with 5 different teams and he was a Pro Bowler one season.
2004: Kevin Everett was next. He didn’t have the splash that the 3 previous tight ends had for the Hurricanes. After he caught 23 passes in 2004, he was drafted in the 3rd round by the Buffalo Bills. The 6-5, 240 Everett only enjoyed a 2 year career in the NFL.
2004 – 2006: The great Greg Olsen was next in line. The stout 6-5, 255 New Jersey native signed with Notre Dame out of high school, but transferred to Miami. He became a starter at tight end during the 2005 season and caught 31 passes. His last season at Miami was in 2006 and he caught 40 passes that season. Also a 1st round draft pick, Olsen was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a 3rd round pick and has been a super star there teaming with Cam Newton. There is a reason some teams remain bad and giving up Olsen for a 3rd round pick is insane.
Things went down hill rapidly for the Miami Hurricanes with a few losing seasons. But, more tight ends to come.
2009: The 6-7, 265 Jimmy Graham started his Miami Hurricane sporting career as a basketball player and he only played football one season. During that one season of 2009, Graham caught only 17 passes, but 5 of those were for touchdowns. He did just enough to get noticed and was picked by the New Orleans Saints in the 3rd round. Graham has had an incredible NFL career and has been in numerous Pro Bowls.
2011 – 2014: Clive Walford was the next in line at tight end. The Belle Glade, Florida native
played 4 seasons at tight end and caught 121 passes for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns. He saved his best season for his senior year whey he caught 44 passes which resulted in 7 touchdowns. Walford was a 3rd round pick of the Oakland Raiders where he still plays.
2015-2016: David Njoku has been one of the bright spots in recent Miami seasons. After a nice career at Miami where he caught 64 passes and 9 of those touchdowns, he became the latest Miami Hurricane 1st round tight end draft pick.
2017: Christopher Herndon was Njoku’s back up in the 2016 season, but he was used a lot and reminds much of David Njoku. Herndon hauled in 28 receptions last season and is off to a great start this year. The 6-4, 260 Herndon could follow David Njoku again next year by being a top draft pick.
Some people think that Miami is Tight End U, and some say Notre Dame. Who really is Tight End U? That’s hard to say because they both have had a bunch of great ones. All I know for sure is that Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow Jr, Jimmy Graham, Bubba Franks and Jeremy Shockey have been about as good as it gets.