State Colleges

A night to remember for Miami Hurricanes greats

Former University of Miami center Brett Romberg hadn’t seen his old quarterback in about five years. So when Canes great Ken Dorsey and Romberg met Thursday at the UM Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the two wasted little time in giving each other grief.

“The verbal assaulting picked up where it left off 10 years ago,” said Romberg, a Canadian who anchored arguably the finest offensive line in college football history. “When we first embraced, Kenny whispered in my ear, ‘It’s been at least a decade since I smelled that old, familiar musk.’

“It’s awesome to see him.”

Romberg, 33, runs the international sales division for Tire Group International, the company — or “extended locker room,” as Romberg refers to it — for which former UM offensive linemen Joaquin Gonzalez, Sherko Haji-Rasouli and John Abreu work.

“I basically have the starting offensive line and tight end from our 2001 national championship team [here],” said Romberg, who won the 2002 Dave Rimington Trophy as the nation’s finest center. Yet he never got drafted, signing as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars and continuing his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons.

“Sitting on [agent] Drew Rosenhaus’ couch and not getting drafted was probably the most humbling shot to my ego I’ve ever had.”

But Thursday night’s honor at Jungle Island was more rewarding, Romberg said, than had his name “scrolled across the ticker on ESPN.”

“That year [2003], there were five or six centers taken in the draft and all but one remained in the NFL as long as I did, so numbers look great on paper,” he said. “But you can’t measure someone’s heart.”

When asked to name the highlight of his UM career, Dorsey said, “You know, it’s so hard to pick out, because there were so many great memories. Obviously, the national championship game was a huge one. And go back to my sophomore year beating Florida State — that one kind of launched us in the right direction after losing to Washington.”

Added Dorsey: “The work we put in to become a great team was as memorable as anything else.”

Also honored Thursday was current UM center Shane McDermott, who was selected by his coaches as the winner of the Walter Kichefski endowed football scholarship. And Dr. Clyde B. McCoy, longtime UM faculty representative to the NCAA, was awarded the UM Sports Hall of Fame’s distinguished service award.

The former greats inducted Thursday:

• Ed Contreras: He led the UM baseball team in home runs and RBI in each of his three seasons and led in batting average in 1958 (.316) and 1959 (.310). He left Miami as the school’s single-season and career home runs leader.

• Dorsey: He quarterbacked the Canes to their fifth national title in 2001 and was named MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl. Dorsey set eight UM career records.

• Bryan Gillooly: He was a two-time NCAA diving champion (1996, ’98).

• Norm Parsons: He served as the women’s golf coach from 1973 to ’78 (the women won the ’77 and ’78 AIAW national titles) and men’s golf coach from 1980 to ’88.

• Romberg: A consensus All-American and Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center in 2002, Romberg never allowed a sack in his UM football career.

• Don Soldinger: He coached six of the seven UM running backs who rushed for 1,000 yards in a season: Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Danyell Ferguson, Frank Gore and James Jackson.

• Jay Tessmer: He had 20 saves and posted a 1.31 ERA for the baseball team in 1995. His 1.16 ERA in 1994 was the second-lowest in Division I, and his career 1.24 ERA is second in UM history.