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Jim Kelly among top Miami Hurricanes players of the 1980s

Associated Press
Jim Kelly was a first-round pick of the Bills after starring at the University of Miami.

NFL Network is celebrating the '80s this week, and no college impacted the NFL draft in that decade more than the Miami Hurricanes. Primarily through the recruiting efforts of Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson, the 'Canes were a factory for first-round picks. Below is a look at 10 of the best NFL players from the Hurricanes' run in the 1980s -- all 10 are in the University of Miami Hall of Fame. The group includes eight first-rounders, including five that were top-10 picks, four that went in the top five, and two that were chosen first overall.

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10. Fred Marion

Position: Defensive back
College Career: A consensus first-team All-American in 1981, Marion was the backbone of the Miami secondary. His 16 career interceptions stood as the school record until the mark was broken by Bennie Blades later in the decade.
Drafted: Fifth round (No. 112 overall), New England Patriots, 1982
Pro Career: Marion had a 10-year career with the Patriots and played in Super Bowl XX, where New England lost to the Chicago Bears after the 1985 season. That year, Marion made the Pro Bowl after making a career-high seven interceptions, averaging 27 yards per interception return.

9. Danny Stubbs

Position: Defensive line
College Career: Stubbs broke the Miami single-season sack record with 17, and the school's career record with 39.5. He was part of the Hurricanes' 1987 national championship team as a consensus All-American, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy as one of the nation's top linemen.
Drafted: Second round (No. 33 overall), San Francisco 49ers, 1988
Pro Career: Stubbs played 11 NFL seasons for five clubs, finishing his career with 51.5 sacks. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1990.

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8. Vinny Testaverde

Position: Quarterback
College Career: Testaverde started his last two seasons at UM, winning the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1986. He threw for 2,557 yards and 26 touchdowns that season, pedestrian numbers by today's standards but stellar for that era. Although he threw five interceptions in a National Championship Game loss to Penn State, his full body of work in college was highly regarded -- he's a member of the UM Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Drafted: First round (No. 1 overall), Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1987
Pro Career: Testaverde played 21 seasons in the NFL, passing for 46,233 yards for seven different clubs. He threw at least one TD pass in all 21 seasons, an NFL record. His best season came in 1998, his first with the New York Jets -- he passed for 3,256 yards and enjoyed the best TD-INT ratio of his career (29-7).

7. Russell Maryland

Position: Defensive line
College Career: Maryland teamed with Cortez Kennedy in 1989 to form arguably the most dominant defensive tackle combination in college football history, making 83 tackles in winning the national championship as a junior. Maryland became the first UM player to win the Outland Trophy in 1990 as a senior, making 10.5 sacks. He is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Drafted: First round (No. 1 overall), Dallas Cowboys, 1991
Pro Career: Maryland had a 10-year NFL career, primarily with the Cowboys and Oakland Raiders, and was named to the 1993 Pro Bowl in his third season in Dallas. Although he made 24.5 career sacks, Maryland was mainly known for his stout run defense. He was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams to go with a pair of national titles at UM.

6. Leon Searcy

Position: Offensive tackle
College Career: Although the latter half of Searcy's playing career spilled into the 1990s, he is also a fixture for 'Canes 80s lore as a full-time starter on the 1989 UM national title team his sophomore year. The former first-team All-American didn't miss a start over his final three college seasons. He has three national championship rings, one from a redshirt year in 1987, and his last coming as a senior in 1991.
Drafted: First round (No. 11 overall), Pittsburgh Steelers, 1992
Pro Career: Searcy was not only one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL over a 10-year career, he was also one of the most durable. Over seven seasons from 1993-1999, he started 111 of 112 regular-season games. He was voted to the 1999 Pro Bowl and played in Super Bowl XXX with the Steelers, who lost, 27-17, to the Dallas Cowboys.

5. Jerome Brown

Position: Defensive line
College Career: Brown was a dominant four-year player at defensive tackle for the 'Canes, helping them win a national title as a freshman in 1983 with six sacks. He made 21 sacks in his UM career and played in four consecutive New Year's Day bowl games (back when the top bowls all played on NYD).
Drafted: First round (No. 9 overall), Philadelphia Eagles, 1987
Pro Career: Brown played five seasons with the Eagles before he was killed in an automobile accident at age 27. He recorded 29.5 career sacks, including nine in his final season in 1991. Brown was named to a pair of Pro Bowls and his No. 99 jersey was retired by the Eagles.

4. Bennie Blades

Position: Safety
College Career: Blades was a two-time first-team All-American at UM and also won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1987 as the top defensive back in the country. He was part of a national-title winning team in his final season and broke the UM career record for interceptions with 19.
Drafted: First round (No. 3 overall), Detroit Lions, 1988
Pro Career: Blades had a 10-year NFL career and went to the Pro Bowl in 1991. He made 14 career interceptions, but was better-known for his tough, physical run support. He forced nine fumbles and recovered 11 in nine seasons with the Lions before playing his last NFL season with the Seattle Seahawks.

3. Cortez Kennedy

Position: Nose tackle
College Career: As a junior college transfer, Kennedy's UM career was brief but dominant. He was a force for the 1989 Miami team that won the national championship with a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Kennedy made 87 tackles and 6.5 sacks that year, incredible production for an interior defensive lineman. He was inducted into the Miami Football Ring of Honor in 2008.
Drafted: First round (No. 3 overall), Seattle Seahawks, 1990.
Pro Career: Kennedy had a stellar 11-year career in Seattle, being voted to eight Pro Bowls and recording 58 career sacks as a nose tackle. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, making a career-high 14 sacks that season, and was put in the Seahawks' Ring of Honor in 2006. Kennedy is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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2. Jim Kelly

Position: Quarterback
College Career: In 1981, Kelly led UM to its first bowl appearance since 1967, a 20-10 win over Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl. By the time coach Howard Schnellenberger's stellar recruiting efforts matured into a championship-level team, Kelly was already gone.
Drafted: First round (No. 14 overall), Buffalo Bills, 1983
Pro Career: Kelly passed on the chance to play for the Bills in favor of the United States Football League, where he won league MVP honors in 1984. He threw a stunning 83 touchdown passes in two USFL seasons with the Houston Gamblers before joining the Bills in 1986. Two years later, he led Buffalo to the first of four consecutive AFC titles. After 11 seasons and more than 35,000 passing yards in Buffalo, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

1. Michael Irvin

Position: Wide receiver
College Career: After redshirting in 1984, Irvin wasted no time establishing himself as one of the top receivers in college football in '85, making 46 catches for 840 yards and nine touchdowns. His 2,423 career receiving yards set a Hurricanes record. His signature play at UM was a 73-yard TD catch to beat rival FSU (6:40 mark) in his final regular season game, putting UM in the National Championship Game.
Drafted: First round (No. 11 overall), Dallas Cowboys, 1988
Pro Career: Irvin played 12 seasons in the NFL, all with the Cowboys, amassing 750 catches for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. His best season came in 1995, when he averaged 100 yards per game (1,603 yards) with a career-high 10 touchdowns. He was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams and Irvin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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