With UM coming off a 10-3 season and adding a top recruiting class, this might be the most anticipation around the program since the Randy Shannon-coached Canes snagged the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2008.
That class, of course, didn’t work out nearly as well as everybody hoped, with the Hurricanes finishing 7-6, 9-4, 7-6, 6-6 and 7-5 over the next five seasons.
And with the 10th-year anniversary of that class arriving this year, we started wondering what actually became of those players, especially the seven ballyhooed recruits from Miami Northwestern.
The seven Northwestern grads — plus 2009 Northwestern addition Brandon Washington — ended up playing a combined 58 NFL games, but 53 of those were by Sean Spence, who’s still active but remains an unsigned free agent.
Defensive tackle Marcus Forston played in only four NFL games and is now a police officer in Atlanta.
Washington, an offensive lineman, played in only one.
Receiver Tommy Streeter spent time with the Ravens and Dolphins during the offseason but never appeared in an NFL game and is now playing in a developmental league, trying to keep alive his NFL dreams. He has worked as a substitute teacher at Miami Southridge, among other jobs in education.
Receivers Aldarius Johnson and Kendall Thompkins and offensive lineman Ben Jones never played in the NFL.
Nor did quarterback Jacory Harris, who has bounced around the Canadian Football League as a seldom-used backup for the past several years. He has thrown 23 passes in three CFL seasons.
Among all players in that 2008 class (including those who didn’t play in Northwestern), Glades Central’s Travis Benjamin has had the best career (18 touchdowns in six years). But Northwestern’s Spence and Booker T. Washington’s Brandon Harris (42 games in four years) are the only other players from that 2008 class who had more than a cup of coffee in the NFL, aside from linebacker Arthur Brown, who began his career at Miami and finished at Kansas State and went on to appear in 48 NFL games while producing only 16 tackles.
Brandon Harris, incidentally, was on the Toronto Argonauts’ roster last season after failing to make the Dolphins a couple of years ago.
Among other highly-regarded players from that 2008 class, receiver LaRon Byrd appeared in only five NFL games and made one catch for eight yards. Safety Vaughn Telemaque never appeared in a game.
It’s a shame more of the class of 2008 couldn’t have had better and longer NFL careers. You won’t meet more respectful, pleasant young men than Brandon Harris, Streeter, Byrd, Jacory Harris and some others from that group.
But that 2008 class, looking back at it 10 years later, serves as a reminder that you never quite know what you have until you see recruits as college players.
And that’s a good lesson for all of us — fans and journalists — when it’s so easy to engage in hope trafficking and get caught up in Rivals.com rankings.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Cardinal Gibbons four-star defensive end Khris Bogle sent this encouraging tweet last week: “No Need To Explain. #Bring it to the City. #Surge19 #City of Miami #Canes Football."
UM would love a commitment from Bogle, rated by Rivals as the No. 3 defensive end in the 2019 class and the 43rd best player overall.
▪ Fox has decided not to counter-program football against ABC’s coverage of the UM-LSU game on Sunday night, Sept. 2.
But the Sept. 27 ESPN-televised home game against North Carolina – a Thursday night – will oppose an attractive NFL game on Fox: Minnesota-Los Angeles Rams.
And UM’s one Friday night game — Oct. 26 at Boston College on ESPN — will oppose Game 3 of the World Series on Fox.
▪ UM has interest in opening the 2023 football season in Orlando if the right opponent can be found. Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl also has shown interest in hosting a neutral site UM game.
▪ UM's men's basketball team will host Rutgers Nov. 28 in the ACC/Big Ten challenge, then play Yale on Dec. 1 in the fourth annual Hoophall Miami Invitational at AmericanAirlines Arena. The event, run by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will feature four games in one day for the first time: UM-Yale, Georgia Tech vs. St. John’s, North Carolina State State vs. Vanderbilt and Texas Tech vs. Memphis.
ESPN has partnered to televise the event, with game times and network information to be released at a later date. This is the third straight year that Miami will compete in the Hoophall Invitational. UM beat Wofford and Princeton the previous two years.