After a stellar first night of the NFL Draft, the University of Miami’s resurgence charged forward Friday when three more Hurricanes reached their dreams, two headed to California and another to Cleveland.
Middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, yet another hometown Hurricane from Coral Gables, was selected 48th overall — the 16th pick of the second round — at about 8:30 p.m. by the San Diego Chargers.
About 90 minutes later, tight end Clive Walford of South Bay in Palm Beach County was chosen 68th overall — the fourth pick of the third round — by the Oakland Raiders.
Then, at about 10:30, running back Duke Johnson of Miami was selected by the Browns 77th overall — the lucky 13th pick of the third round.
With one day left in the draft, the Canes already have had five players selected, the most since six went in 2012. In Thursday’s first-round bonanza, offensive tackle Ereck Flowers went to the Giants ninth overall, and receiver Phillip Dorsett went to the Colts 29th.
One ESPN commentator remarked that “something doesn’t match up” if you went back and looked at the Hurricanes’ 6-7 record.
Shot back Mel Kiper, Jr: “Once they lost that Florida State game, the veterans started thinking about the NFL, and things went awry. If they would have won that game they could have finished off and not lost another.’’
With his 17-month-old daughter Ella Grace on his lap and a crowd of family and friends at his side, Perryman — incredulous smile and all — was nearly smothered by a joyful relative when his name was called on TV.
A Butkus Award finalist, Perryman led Miami with 110 tackles and 9 1/2 tackles for loss in 2014. He finished his career with 351 tackles.
“I’m relieved now — no, elated!’’ Perryman’s father, Desmond, told the Miami Herald as Denzel interviewed with ESPN. “Oh, man, we’re happy. He was so excited.
“We just wanted him to be picked up kind of early. Everything is wonderful.’’
Commentators gushed about the pick.
“He’s a tackling machine,’’ Kiper said. “He was dominating in every game, highly productive player. Instinctive, reliable, his recognition skills are off the charts. You can make an argument that he’s the best inside linebacker in this draft.’’
Added cohort Todd McShay: Every time you watched tape of this guy he was in on the play. Every single Saturday he left it all on the field just like Ray Lewis did.
“To be a great team in the NFL you’ve got to have firebreathers. When they show up the room changes climate. This guy is a firebreather.’’
Over on the upscale roof at Dream South Beach, a boutique hotel in Miami Beach, Walford and his family, including his 20-month-old son Clive III, were doing their own celebrating.
Walford’s selection was the highest for a UM tight end since 2007, when the Chicago Bears took Greg Olsen 31st overall. A finalist for the Mackey Award honoring the nation’s top tight end, Walford eclipsed the top career totals of any Canes tight end in program history. He caught 44 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
“I’m in heaven right now,’’ he said. “I got all my loved ones here, and I got drafted. At the combine they told me they really liked me and they were going to come get me. They were men of their word. I respect them for that.
“I’m coming with open arms. I’m giving them everything I’ve got.’’
His mother, Yvette Wilson, has worked at Burger King since Clive was 5, and he said he’s surprising her with “any car she wants.’’
Also getting a car was Duke Johnson’s mother, Cassandra Mitchell, who said she picked out a black 2015 Infiniti QX80 with “chocolate leather.’’
Johnson, who declared for the draft after his junior season, finished his career as UM’s all-time leading rusher with 3,519 yards, and was Miami’s career all-purpose yards leader with 5,523.
“At any given time I can take it to the house from anywhere on the field,’’ he told the NFL Network.
Said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: “Duke Johnson can make you miss, and he can also make you look silly in the process.’’
Miami Herald writer David Furones contributed to this report.