The "U'' well-represented by Cardinals' James, Rolle, Campbell

TAMPA — This state has its share of big-time football programs, with the University of Florida and Florida State leading the way in more recent years.

But when it comes to the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, one school leads the way: the "U."

That's the University of Miami, the home of five national championships since 1983, two Heisman trophy winners and Cardinals players Edgerrin James, Antrel Rolle and Calais Campbell. (Although Florida State graduates Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett may disagree).

"I got text (messages) from Edge and Antrel right after I was drafted by the Cardinals," Campbell said. "It's a big brother-type thing."

As the Cardinals prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl at 6 p.m. at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, these three players will be focused on the red and white -- but they still bleed orange and green.

"I'm always helping recruit (to Miami)," said James, an Immokalee native. "We're the ones that set the trend for everyone else (in Florida)."

James' commitment to Miami might be the most visible of the three Cardinals players -- the 30-year-old star running back made a $250, 000 donation to his alma mater in 2000, the largest amount of money ever donated to Miami by a former Hurricanes athlete, and the team meeting room is named after him. He was selected to the school's Ring of Honor in September.

But Rolle and Campbell also add to the South Florida feel on this Southwestern NFL team.

"It was like no other, man," Rolle said, reminiscing about his Miami team's national championship in 2001. "I've never been part of an organization where I didn't work for myself, I worked for the guy next to me. It was a team of brothers."

Of the three Cardinals from UM, Rolle best represents the program's glory years -- he was at Miami from 2001-04, when the Hurricanes advanced to the national championship twice and played in the Orange Bowl and the Peach Bowl his other two seasons.

A Miami-area native himself, Rolle attended South Dade High School, where he was an all-American, before choosing the hometown Hurricanes. The then-cornerback was an All-American in college, too, and a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference player as a senior. The Cardinals then chose Rolle eighth overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, and he has been a regular in Arizona's defensive backfield since, picking up five interceptions in 2007 and 77 tackles in 2008.

As for James, his future at Miami looked bright after the Hurricanes won the 1994 National Championship in James' junior year of high school. But Miami received NCAA sanctions in 1995 before James arrived, and his sophomore year the Hurricanes were 5-6, including an embarrassing 47-0 loss to Florida State. Still, James rushed for 1,098 yards on just 184 attempts.

James left Miami after his junior year as the only player in school history to post back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards rushing or better. The program had started to rebound, with a 9-3 record in 1998 including a 49-45 win against then-No. 2 UCLA.

Despite Miami's recent problems, James' support for the Hurricanes hasn't wavered, even given his sanction-ridden experience there.

"You have to understand why the program is that way," said James, addressing the Hurricanes' 5-7 season in 2007 and 7-6 campaign in 2008. "We've had guys that are consistently good enough to leave. ... No other school could come back right away after losing that many players."

Campbell was part of that exodus from Miami. The rookie defensive end left the Hurricanes after his junior season and was picked up by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

"He's the baby of the group," Rolle joked. "But you've got to look out for him."

Campbell, 6-foot-8 and 282 pounds, was a first-team All-American for the Hurricanes after a streak of seven straight games with a sack as a sophomore. He was highly recruited by several big-time football schools after earning a Colorado high school record of 58 sacks in his four seasons.

"I had an opportunity to go a lot of places," Campbell said. "But I still had a good time at UM. To me, it still taught me what I needed to know ... They just need to get back that, well, swagger is what we called it when I was there."