Is Miami Quarterback U?

The Miami Hurricanes wandered around in football nowhere land for years and years.

They hired Lou Saban and he changed the recruiting landscape enough for Howard Schnellenberger. Saban was the one to recruit Jim Kelly, and no he is not related to Nick Saban.

Controversy occurred when Saban was at Miami and he left after 2 seasons to take the head job at Army.

Schnellenberger may have inherited a few players, but he was the one that really got the program heading in the right direction even winning the national championship in 1983 before resigning to take the Louisville job.

His idea was to build a wall around South Florida, recruiting wise not Donald Trump and Mexico

wise. He saw all of the talent in Miami and surrounding areas and wanted to keep the best at home.  In the meantime, pick up some of the best players in the country offering warm weather and South Beach as incentive.

It worked and he built something of a dynasty before leaving.

Miami became known for great Quarterbacks, great Wide Receivers, great defense and a lot of taunting and personal fouls.

1980 – 1982 Jim Kelly and Mark Richt: Many people don’t know that Jim Kelly was the guy that got this thing rolling because they remember Miami beating Nebraska for the national championship and Bernie Kosar was their Quarterback then. I added Mark Richt because he is their Quarterback now and Kelly was injured during part of 1982 and Richt received a lot of playing time.

Kelly grew up in East Brady, Pennsylvania. He had a phenomenal senior season in high school throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and over 40 Touchdowns. He wanted to go to Penn State, but Joe Paterno only wanted him as a Linebacker. Miami, however, saw the talent at Quarterback and signed him. Kelly’s best year was his junior season when he threw for over 2,400 yards and led the

Hurricanes to a 10-2 record.

Kelly is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I respected Joe Paterno’s judgement about Linebackers and he did have Quarterback Todd Blackledge and they did also win the national championship in 1982. It’s hard to slam Paterno much for that decision.

1983 – 1984 Bernie Kosar: Kosar, from Boardman, Ohio, led the Hurricanes to their first national championship in 1983. Talk about a shock, nobody expected the Hurricanes to do anything against the top ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, but they beat them 31-30. The Cornhuskers were considered one of the best teams of all time and they just steamrolled everybody. But, Miami and Kosar were not intimidated. Schnellenberger left after the 1983 season and the Canes hired Jimmy Johnson from Oklahoma State.

In 1984, Kosar threw for a then Miami record of 3,642 yards and 25 Touchdowns. But, the Hurricanes finished only 8-5. Kosar redshirted as a true freshman and then graduated after this year and left for the NFL. He played 12 seasons in the NFL and threw for over 23,000 yards during his career.

1985 – 1986 Vinnny Testaverde: a native of Floral Park, New York, Testaverde took over for Kosar in 1985 which was actually his best season statistics wise. But, Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy in 1986. In spite of the talent on the Hurricanes roster in 1986, they were upset by Penn State for the national championship. Testaverde started for 2 seasons for the Hurricanes and then was the very first pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played an amazing 21 years in the

NFL and threw for over 46,000 yards with 8 different teams.

Geoff Torretta backed up Testaverde and he may have been instrumental in bringing younger brother Gino to Miami.

1987 – 1988 Steve Walsh: Like a lot of the Miami Quarterbacks, Walsh was from another part of the country. He played high school football in  St Paul, Minnesota. Walsh took over for Testaverde and the Hurricanes won the national title in 1987. But, his best season was in 1988 when he threw for 3,115 yards and 29 Touchdowns. The Hurricanes may have repeated in 1988, but they were upset by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a classic of a game.

Miami coach Jimmy Johnson left to take the head coaching job with the Dallas Cowboys and he drafted Steve Walsh in the Supplemental draft. Walsh played 11 years in the NFL and threw for nearly 7,000 yards with 6 different teams.

1989 – 1990 Craig Erickson: After Jimmy Johnson left, the Hurricanes brought in Dennis Erickson from Washington State. Craig Erickson is from West Palm Beach, Florida and they are not related. Miami won another national championship in 1989. Like Steve Walsh, Erickson had a much better season following a national championship season. In 1990, Erickson threw for 3,363 yards and 22 Touchdowns. Erickson played 7 seasons in the NFL throwing for over 7,000 yards.

1991 – 1992 Gino Torretta:  Torretta was the next man up after Erickson. This was the third Miami Quarterback in a row that won a national title during his first year as a starter and it could have been the fifth in a row if Penn State had not upset the 1986 Miami team. Torretta was from Pinole, California and he won the Heisman Trophy a year after leading the Hurricanes to a national title.

1993 Frank Costa from Philadelphia and Ryan Collins from Pembroke Pines, Florida split time in 1993 as the Canes had something of a down year with a 9-3 record. The Hurricanes lost to Florida State, who won the national championship that season and to 9th ranked West Virginia. But, then they were brutalized in the Fiesta Bowl by Arizona and their Desert Swarm Defense.

Costa threw for 1,324 yards and Collins threw for 1,555.

1994 Frank Costa took over as the main guy this season and led the Canes to a 10-2 record. Costa grew up in Philadelphia where he played at St Joseph’s Preparatory School. He was very highly recruited, but apparently he was looking for warm weather and he picked the Hurricanes. People call Costa a scrub, but he was 19-3 as a starter at Miami. He threw for 2,443 yards and 15 Touchdowns, but he also threw 15 Interceptions. 1994 was Costa’s only year to be a full time starter.

1995 – 1997 Ryan Clement from Denver, Colorado passed Ryan Collins on the depth chart and took over as Quarterback. Butch Davis took over as head coach as Dennis Erickson stepped down as head coach. The team sputtered to an 8-3 record losing big to UCLA and to Florida State and also losing to Virginia Tech.

In 1996, they lost to Florida State and Virginia Tech again, but they were also upset by East Carolina. The 1997 season was just awful for the Hurricanes and the luster was looking to be totally gone from the program. They finished 1997 at 5-6 and all of the problems did not lay with Quarterback Ryan Clement.

Clement threw for over 6,000 yards at Miami, but he had almost as many Interceptions as he did Touchdowns.

Clement played in Europe with the NFL Developmental League and then with the XFL, but like those leagues such as the USFL and the WFL, the XFL also folded.

1998 Scott Covington from Fresno, California took over for Clement, but he was already a senior. He lead them back to a respectable 9-3 season throwing for just over 2,300 yards and 19 Touchdowns. Covington was a 7th round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals where he played for 3 years. He was with the St Louis Rams for 2 years after that and he was released in 2004. From there, Covington made his way to the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts.

1999 Kenny Kelly was from Tampa, Florida where he attended Tampa Catholic High School. In high school, Kelly threw for 7,486 yards and 77 Touchdowns. As a starter in 1999, Kelly led the

Hurricanes to a 9-4 record while throwing for 1,913 yards and 15 Touchdowns. He left after the 1999 season to play baseball and he played in the Major Leagues for a few years.

2000 – 2002 Ken Dorsey was another Californian coming from Orinda. Dorsey was the leader of the resurgent Canes with the 2001 team being called one of the greatest college teams of all time. As a 3 year starter, Dorsey led the Hurricanes to an impressive 35-2 record and he threw for 9,565 yards and 86 Touchdowns. Dorsey was drafted in the 7th round by the San Francisco 49ers and he played there for 3 seasons. He backed up a couple of other players, but did get a few starts. In 2006, Dorsey was traded to Cleveland. He played for the Browns for a few seasons before being released after the 2008 season. Dorsey coached a couple of years and then tried the Canadian Football League.

After Canada, Dorsey went to work for the Carolina Panthers. He is currently the Quarterback coach. If you watch the Panthers, Dorsey is the guy that looks like he’s 18 talking to Cam Newton on the sidelines.

2003- 2004 Brock Berlin was a very highly recruited Quarterback from Evangel High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. Berlin originally signed with Florida, but he found himself behind Rex Grossman on the depth chart and he transferred to Miami. He had a very rough season in 2003 throwing more Interceptions than Touchdowns. The Hurricanes still managed an 11-2 record in 2003. The next season was better for Berlin, but the Canes only finished with a 9-3 record.

Berlin did not get selected in the 2005 season, but he was signed by the Miami Dolphins. He was a

back up at Miami, Dallas, St Louis and Detroit. He was in the NFL for 6 seasons, but he didn’t play a lot.

2005 – 2007 Kyle Wright was next, but this was the beginning of the end for the Canes. Wright was another highly recruited Quarterback and the Danville, California product was yet another Cane from that state. The Canes were 9-3 in 2005, but 7-6 in 2006 and then 5-7 in 2007.

2014 – 2016 Brad Kaaya was also a Californian and from Los Angeles. He started the first game of his true freshman year in 2014 and did really well. In 2015, Kaaya also did really well and he has one more season before declaring for the NFL. The hope is, that brand new coach Mark Richt will turn things around at Miami so that Kaaya can enjoy his last season of college football.

So, who was the best out of all of these guys?


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