Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Miami Hurricanes’ NFL influence remains strong but could soon fade

Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) gains yards on a run against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) gains yards on a run against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP

The University of Miami’s influx of seven rookies this season grew UM’s total of active NFL players on season-opening rosters to 38. Only LSU with 40 has more. Florida State and Florida tied for sixth place with 31. And if you wondered, South Florida’s two other FBS schools besides Miami — FAU and FIU — have six and three, respectively.

I decided to examine the list of 47 local-college players in the NFL and winnow it to a subset of players who both have made a Pro Bowl in their careers and are current (when healthy) starters.

There are a dozen: Here they are, alphabetically, with number of Pro Bowls in parentheses:

▪ Jon Beason, UM, Giants middle linebacker (3).

▪ Calais Campbell, UM, Cardinals left defensive end (1).

▪ Frank Gore, UM, Colts running back (5).

▪ Jimmy Graham, UM, Seahawks tight end (3).

▪ Devin Hester, UM, Falcons punt/kickoff returner (4).

▪ T.Y. Hilton, FIU, Colts wide receiver (1).

▪ Andre Johnson, Colts wide receiver (7).

▪ Alfred Morris, FAU, Redskins running back (2).

▪ Greg Olsen, UM, Panthers tight end (1).

▪ Antrel Rolle, UM, Bears strong safety (3).

▪ Sam Shields, UM, Packers right cornerback (1).

▪ Vince Wilfork, UM, Texans nose tackle (5).

Hilton, Morris and Graham would be the top three in terms of current fantasy value.

What strikes you about these highest-profile ex-Hurricanes, though, is that their pro careers are mostly done. Gore, Johnson and Wilfork are near the end. Only three of the nine are under 30, the youngest 27.

The Miami/NFL pipeline is still open, but, with the era of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed past and now the era of Gore and Johnson fading, who’ll be the next rising young Cane to be a pro superstar. I guess Graham, a three-time Pro Bowler at 28, is closest.

Who’s next? The Dolphins have a pair of possibilities in Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. Maybe it’ll be Ereck Flowers? Duke Johnson?

It would be interesting to see how this same list looked in five years, and to see what ex-Canes stepped up onto it.

▪ The 108 latest Hall of Fame nominees include eight men who were Dolphins or Hurricanes: QB Vinny Testaverde; RBs Ottis Anderson, Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis; LB Zach Thomas; DB Troy Vincent and coaches Jimmy Johnson and Lou Saban. Best bets to survive the November cut to 25: James, Thomas and Johnson.

▪ Three NFL markets topped a 40 TV rating for Week 1 games: Milwaukee, Buffalo and New Orleans. Miami’s 17.9 rating for the opener was fifth-lowest of all markets where the game was top-rated.

▪ Titans’ Marcus Mariota on Sunday could become only the fifth rookie QB since 1970 to start 2-0. Good news? Two were John Elway and Joe Flacco. Bad news? Others were Ryan Leaf and Mark Sanchez.

▪ Dolphins’ 25-1 Super Bowl odds entering Week 2 tie for eighth-best. Only better odds, in order: Packers, Patriots, Seahawks, Colts, Eagles, Cowboys and Broncos.

▪ Niners’ Carlos Hyde last week became first RB since Gerald Riggs in 1984 to top 150 yards rushing and score two TDs in his first NFL start.

▪ Bills’ Percy Harvin last week became second player with four career 50-yard TD catches and three 100-yard kickoff returns. The first: Hall of Famer Ollie Matson, who played in 1952-66.

▪ Don’t forget about the run, pass-happy NFL: Over past five seasons, teams with a 100-yard rsher won at a .706 clip, vs. .550 with a 100-yard receiver and .521 with a 300-yard passer.

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