Tracking proCanes

Tracking proCanes - Robert Bailey is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, and NFL defensive back Robert Bailey. Bailey played eleven seasons for six teams, the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, the Detroit Lions, and the Baltimore Ravens from 1991 to 2001 in the NFL Bailey was drafted in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Rams. He was nicknamed "Beetle" after comic strip character.

On October 23, 1994 as a member with the Rams, Bailey made the longest punt return in NFL history when he ran 103 yards for a touchdown in a game against the New Orleans Saints.What makes this return stand out is that every single player on the field assumed the ball was going to bounce through the end zone after the punt. Everyone, that is, except Bailey, who was the only person to see that the ball never bounced out of the end zone and was lying in the end zone still in play. He ran up, scooped the ball up, and returned it for a touchdown before anyone realized what had happened. A broken neck against the Green Bay Packers ended Bailey's NFL career in 2001. Bailey currently works in the sports marketing business with Rosenhaus Sports' agency. You're down here in Miami working with Drew Rosenhaus, talk about what you do for his firm and how you ended up working with him?
Robert Bailey: I started with Drew as a player, he was my agent. I was one of his first clients and finished my career with him which is unusual these days with more than 50% of players changing agents. When I retired after 11 years I had a good understanding of the business so he decided to bring me on board. Ten years later, I am the President of RSR.

pC: At what age did you start playing football, and did you play any other sports?
RB: I started playing football when I was ten years old. I played all sports but football I mastered.

pC: Were you a Hurricane fan growing up? If not, who did you like? If you were which former Hurricane player did you really like?
RB: I really did not watch college ball growing up but I did watch the NFL a little. My favorite player as a young kid was Tony Dorsett.

pC: Who recruited you out of High School?
RB: Coach Soldinger and Jimmy Johnson [recruited me]. Jimmy came to my house and said" You should want to be with us, not we want to be with you" I was sold right then.

pC: You're a Cane but you almost went to....
RB: U of Minnesota

pC: What was the toughest thing about playing at the U?
RB: There was nothing tough about playing at “The U,” that was all I knew.

pC: What's your favorite memory of your time at Miami?
RB: Running out of the tunnel with the smoke.

pC: You covered some great wide receivers during your days at Miami who was the toughest to go up against in practice?
RB: They were all tough and that made me a better player in the NFL.

pC: You won 2 National Championships talk about those experiences.
RB: They were great but truthfully it was common place back then. It was expected every year.

pC: Talk about Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson as coaches. Jimmy. What was the difference between the two coaches?
RB: I loved Jimmy. He was the Principle to us and Erickson was a substitute teacher.

pC: Talk about the whole U is Family and the tight bonds players make and keep. Has that helped you in your job with your Hurricane clients?
RB: All Hurricanes stick together. That’s why when Jimmy was at Miami we weren’t allowed to be in fraternities. We were all we had. That lasts forever.

pC: Talk about your NFL days and the transition from the U. You were a 4th round pick by the Rams. What was the biggest adjustment when you first entered the NFL?
RB: The politics. I always competed on the field but there is a business off the field behind closed doors and salary and politics played a big part. In college, the best played and you had 4 yrs to prove you were one of the best.

pC: What was the key to your success and longevity as an NFL player?
RB: Physically, I was an above average player but mentally I was a Pro Bowler. I felt like I was the smartest player on the field and I knew everything that was happening.

pC: You won two Super Bowl rings, one with the Cowboys and one with the Ravens. Would you say one was more memorable than the other?
RB: They were both great memories. Many Hurricanes played with me on both those teams so I have to give them equal value.

pC: How was it playing on such a great defense like the Ravens' defense of 2000 which included fellow Canes Duane Starks and Ray Lewis?
RB: It felt great to play with guys who were very talented and knew how to play together. Our defense was the reason we won the Super Bowl.

pC: You hold the record for the longest punt return in NFL History. Talk about that play, and do you every think the record will be broken?
RB: As I said before, I was the smartest person on the field and I knew every rule. I took advantage of 11 other players that did not know that particular rule. Now every coach is showing that play so it won't happen again.

pC: Who was the toughest NFL receiver you had to go up against and why?
RB: Joey Galloway in his prime. That guy had speed, speed and more speed.

pC: What do you think about the last couple of years and the current state of Hurricane football and why do you think Miami hasn't been able to develop top defensive backs like yourself more consistently?
RB: I believe in college football the four year plan helps every school to eventually be good. When a school becomes good, high school athletes eventually start to go to other schools so they won't have to wait a long time to finally play. Eventually, the bad school becomes good and the good school becomes bad.

pC: What is a misconception people have about the University of Miami?
RB: That we were thugs all the time. We were thugs on the field but pretty smart guys off of it.

Word Asssociations: give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Randy Shannon: Positive Larry Coker: Nice Orange Bowl: Legendary Dolphins Stadium: Business Sebastian the Ibis: huh? Jimmy Johnson: Leader Art Kehoe: Friend Ray Lewis: Boss Warren Sapp: Stud Coral Gables: Safe The Fiesta Bowl: Incredible Ohio State: Bitter

pC: Favorite NFL Team?
RB: I like all the NFL teams.

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
RB: The Heat.

pC: Favorite Baseball Team?
RB: The Marlins.

pC: Favorite Food?
RB: Fruit.

pC: What Band/Group I would find most of on your iPod?
RB: All old school/R&B.

pC: One movie you could watch over and over?
RB: The Book of Eli.

pC: One TV show you cannot miss?
RB: Spartacus.

pC: You didn't say Young and the Restless soap opera. You appeared once on the Young and the Restless, talk about how that came about. Do people still tease you about that one?
RB: I knew the executive producer, so that’s how I got on. Sometimes they still tease me.

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
RB: I spend time with the family.

We at would like to thank Robert Bailey for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson, Mike Rumph and more!

Bookmark and Share

Tracking proCanes - Ashley Woods is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami and current volleyball player with Club Voleibol in Benidorm, Spain Ashley Woods. Woods was a four-year letterwinner under head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch from 2005-08, and finished her career at UM seeing action in 367 sets through 117 matches. In 2008, she helped UM to its second-best season in Division I history - leading the Hurricanes to a 26-6 overall record and a 14-6 mark in the ACC. She also served as a captain for the Hurricanes on the year.

The 6-2 Round Rock, Texas-native left her mark on the UM record books throughout her career, finishing ranking among the top 10 all-time in seven categories for the Hurricanes. Woods ties for third in career matches played (117), while ranking eighth in block assists (209), eighth in total blocks (38), ninth in attack percentage (.256), ninth in points (825.5) and 10th in sets played (367).

In addition, she was selected as co-winner of the 100% Award in 2006 - a distinction given annually by the UM coaching staff recognizing a student-athlete who exemplifies a dedication of 100 percent day-in and day-out. Ashley Woods received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, while immediately going on to earn her Master's Degree from UM in spring 2009. So you have signed a professional Volleyball contract with a team in Spain, talk about how you ended up in Spain.
Ashley Woods: I went to visit my friend who plays on a professional team in the Canary Islands. It was supposed to be a vacation but I asked her coach if I could work out with her team while I was there. I knew in the back of my head that I wanted to play but I was thinking more in terms of next season. Her coach called around because he knew some teams that needed a player with my skill set and voila! I ended up in Benidorm. I had been training and was in shape because of my job at Athletic Republic. My lease had just ended in Miami and it was all kind of perfect timing. I didn’t really go the typical route of an exposure tour, agent etc., but I’m here now!

pC: Did you know they were going to draft you? How does the international volleyball draft work?
AW: There isn’t really a draft. Usually you sign up with an agency who either places you on an exposure tour or if you’re really good (All-American, National team player etc.) [the agency] contacts and negotiates with a team directly.

pC: Are there any other Americans on your team?
AW: There is one other American on my team, she is from Wisconsin. There are two other ACC players in my league. One of which I grew up with in Round Rock. Crazy huh?

pC: When does the season start? How long does the season last?
AW: The season starts in August and runs until April for my league, playoffs begin in the last week of February. It varies depending on the country and level that you play at. The top two teams from my league (Superliga B) move into Superliga A and the bottom two from Superliga A move to B. We play preseason matches in other countries but the ones that matter are all Spanish Teams within the league, much like a college format.

pC: Is there a tough language barrier?
AW: The language barrier isn’t as tough as I thought. The Spanish here is different than the Spanish spoken in Miami and Texas, but it is fun to learn and practice. I have a roommate from Argentina and another from Brazil and we all do our best to communicate. Spanish is the common thread for us so there is a lot of “Spanglish” spoken in my house.

pC: What's been the toughest transition personally, going abroad?
AW: If I had to pick, I’d say the toughest transition is the reduction in luxuries that I have in the states. However it is completely enjoyable to live a simpler life. I don’t have a dryer so everything is line dried and there is only a stove and no oven in my apartment. My teammates down the hall have an oven so it’s not too bad. But this is very common here. I can walk everywhere and the weather is very pleasant so not having a car isn’t an issue and if it were the team would provide me with one. But on the other hand the food is much fresher/healthier here and I love to cook so it is a complete dream to go to the market for me. It’s a give and take I guess.

pC: What's one thing that has surprised you about Spain?
AW: I haven’t been surprised too much yet. OH! They don’t refrigerate their eggs here!!! And somehow their milk until you open it! That surprised me and took some getting used to.

pC: Is your team mascot a frog?
AW: Our mascot is a frog, he’s cute and I need to find out if he has a name…my friend’s team is some sort of scabby looking thing with one eye. Very creepy.

pC: Will you be on the Olympic team?
AW: I won’t be on the Olympic team. There’s a pipeline you have to follow for that and it starts at a very young age. I went to a couple of high performance camps but nothing really took off. I started too late.

pC: At what age did you start playing volleyball, and did you play any other sports?
AW: I have been active since I was 7 and I started playing volleyball and basketball at the age of 12 year ‘round until I graduated and moved to Miami.

pC: Did you follow sports growing up?
AW: I actually didn’t follow any sports teams. I always wanted to play and it was torture for me to sit and watch. I watched a lot of college basketball but I didn’t really have a specific team. I’d say overall I like college sports better than pro sports in general and it’s where I want to work eventually.

pC: You're from Texas, why the University of Miami?
AW: UM was my last official visit I wanted to make sure that I made the right decision. I had a really good visit when I went there and I felt like I would fit with the team. I’m kind of obsessed with The Rock, well back then I was, so I’d say he had a 20% factor in my decision too [Laughter], the other 80% was the fact that I loved the team and they had a great program for what I wanted to study. I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Sport Administration from the School of Education at UM. I also knew that I wanted to travel and get out of my town and learn some life lessons/ My family always thought I’d stay close to home because I’m such a home-body and very family oriented but we all were wrong! Now I’m halfway across the world. I think being at Miami made this chapter in my life a little easier to handle. I’m pretty independent but this is a major move for anyone.

pC: Who recruited you out of High School?
AW: I was recruited by Erik Olson who is no longer there, and I gained a lot of what I know now from Matt Botsford. He is a wonderful coach who is now working at Notre Dame, his dream job. I owe a lot of my skills as a hitter to him.

pC: You were a pretty highly regarded HS player, why did you choose such a young program like Miami?
AW: Miami was and is still a young program, but my coach is very technically sound and knows a tremendous amount about volleyball. I felt that I would gain a wealth of knowledge from her and the staff there. I was right.

pC: You're a Cane but you almost went to....
AW: I almost ended up going to University of Georgia. What made me not go there was the fact that they liked me, but didn’t really have a spot for me to be in and it was hard for their coach to let me slip away but it just wasn’t the right timing for me to come there. I love Athens and hope to live in Atlanta some day. It’s my absolute favorite city in the world. I used to get so geeked up for our match at Georgia Tech because I love being in that city so much.

pC: Why the number 77?
AW: I chose 77 because my best friend, Jill Robinson was 57. I wanted 7 but it was already taken. It was promised to me the next year but I just stuck with my number because it was unique and two 7’s is definitely better than 1. I am 14 here because of the rules within the league regarding numbers, but guess what 7 plus 7 is? [Laughter]

pC: What was the toughest thing about playing at the U?
AW: The toughest thing about playing here was that I had to challenge for my spot everyday, but that’s how it should be and it made me mentally tough. I wouldn’t change what I went through for anything .It has helped me both on and off the court.

pC: What's your favorite memory of your time at Miami?
AW: My favorite memory is a block that I had vs. Duke. The ball hit the ground before the hitter, who shall remain nameless, landed from her attack. Best feeling ever.

pC: Do you keep in contact with any of your former UM teammates? Which ones? Any coaches you still talk to?
AW: I keep in contact with all of my former teammates thanks to skype and facebook. A couple of them lived with me for a bit while they figured out their lives like the rest of us. I love them all so much. I talk to Lisa and Matt, and the current coaches of course.

pC: What did your teammates call you? Did you have a nickname?
AW: Everyone calls me Woods, EVERYONE. [Laughter] I have Ashley on the back of my jersey now though. My team likes my name and wanted me to put that instead of Woods on the back. You can put anything you want back there. I’m thinking Woodsie F. Baby next year but we’ll see.

pC: What was the toughest place to play on the road?
AW: The toughest place to play is Clemson for sure…we even got harassed by some of their fans…but it is intense and I am an intense player so I enjoy it.

pC: The University of Miami gets a lot of publicity about their football team and how it's family-like, and how former players come back and tutor the younger ones, talk about the atmosphere on your volleyball team at the U.
AW: The volleyball team is like a family too. We all come back and get to know the freshman and keep in touch with them. I still practice with the team and try and help the newbies out during water breaks and in between plays…The atmosphere was perfect we never had any drama or cliques, which is rare in girls’ team sports. It’s one of the reasons I chose to play here and it remains that way today. We are known for our chemistry around Hecht.

pC: Do you go back often? When was the last time you went? You go to any games?
AW: I live in Miami when I’m not here so I go back all the time to practice. I work at a really cool gym so I condition and weight train there…but I do come to campus…I host/emcee a Sport Ethics debate that the grad students of the Sport Admin program participate in every year so I have to be there to plan that as well. I went to as many games as I could this year. I won’t be in the states next season because I’ll be playing in my own!

pC: You graduated in 2009, what were you doing from the time you graduated till you got drafted?
AW: When I graduated, I started working as a volleyball consultant at Athletic Republic. I trained a middle school and high school group of girls 3 times a week. I also helped with strength and conditioning work with football tennis and lacrosse players. I was the coordinator of the volleyball program and  that included skill work and strength and conditioning work. Athletic republic is really cool and is science-based, sport-specific training. We have these crazy treadmills that you sprint on that go up to 28mph and can raise to a 40 degree incline. There’s this cool plyometric deck that we can tether you down to and also measure how much force you are taking off with and where you are landing when you jump. We have a program that measures you from all angles and we can look and see your biomechanical efficiency for a bat swing, a soccer kick, a volleyball attack. If you want to train to get better it’s the place to be right now. There’s so much stuff in that place it’s ridiculous. I had to become certified to work there and everything. I intend to train and work there when I get back. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

pC: What one person was the most influential in the development of your game?
AW: I’d say the most influential people in the development of my game (skills wise) were Roberto Frontera and Michael Swem. Both of them were club coaches during the really important years. Roberto helped me see that I had potential and Mike helped me push past what I thought was the peak of my game. They pushed me really hard and made me want to be great all the time…My strength coach at Miami, Mac Calloway turned me into an athlete. I was never this super strong or fast person but he helped me and I was running with the thoroughbreds (that’s what we called the fastest people on the team) before I knew what was going on. I never could squat much, but I can pretty much hang-clean a tow truck thanks to him! He helped me push past my limits and I can never thank him enough for what he did for me mentally.

pC: Did you have any gameday superstitions or rituals that you did?
AW: On gamedays I’m usually in the locker-room an hour before we have to be there…I ALWAYS shower…I’m known for that and all my teammates call me crazy both here and at Miami. But on gameday I am usually so fired up by the time I eat breakfast that I have to just chill out and relax by the time the match is about to start, so I shower and the great thing about here is that there’s coffee everywhere so my teammates and I get together and have a cup of coffee and then begin to prepare for the match. I LOVE coffee so it’s the perfect routine for me.

pC: What is the biggest adjustment you've had to make as a professional volleyball player?
AW: The biggest adjustment is probably how I warm up and cool down. I am a lot older now so I have to take things a little slower and pay attention to my body. It doesn’t recover as fast or as easy as it used to…my body is my moneymaker so I have to make sure I keep it in top condition. The coaches know that too so the intensity during practices is not as high as in college, we don’t do drills that make you dive everywhere or run till we pass out. We work more on skill and precision and getting reps in. I like that adjustment though and the way that I used to train helps me to work hard when things seem a little easier. My coach is always saying “tranquila” to me, which basically means to relax, because I still act like a college player sometimes, go hard or go home is all I know!

pC: What do you think of the current state of the UM volleyball program?
AW: I think the girls are doing great right now. They didn’t have as much success as we did my senior year…BUT they made it to the tournament and that is HUGE! I just hope it inspires them to work hard in the off-season and over the summer so that they can come in and beat up on the ACC.

pC: What is a misconception people have about the University of Miami?
AW: The misconception is that we party all the time and we don’t work hard because of the city that we live in and the costs associated with going to our school. I actually got into an argument with another girl about that…I had to set her straight! I told her that our success didn’t just magically appear on its own and that I worked every day for what I have now…people think the life of a college athlete is glamorous and very easy, what they don’t realize is that it’s very hard to be a college student and practice 3 hours a day plus weights and running and be great. That’s’ why we are proud to be Hurricanes, all of us, because we earned it.

pC: Did you go to any football, basketball or baseball games when you were a student?
AW: I went to a lot of the basketball and football games. A few soccer games and some tennis matches my senior year. I worked as an operations intern for the women’s basketball team so I was there for all the home matches as well. I love college sports so anytime I could go and it didn’t interfere with anything I went. I’m a volleyball player so any excuse to yell and be crazy is completely valid in my eyes, except for Tennis. [Laughter]

pC: Tell us the craziest story from your UM volleyball days that you can remember either with another player or coach on or off the field
AW: Well, I won’t give up all my secrets, BUT, we usually have an inner squad beach tournament every spring and that year we were odd so my coach was my partner…she happened to be like 7 months pregnant at the time. We ended up winning the tournament! We always laugh about that, some of my teammates should just stick to indoor. [Laughter]

pC: Word Asssociations: give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Sebastian the Ibis: that crazy move he does where he takes his beak and pulls the top and bottom parts in opposite sideways directions…It pretty much gets me fired up anytime…
Coral Gables: US1 and how to avoid it
Coach Welch: Lefties rule the world J
Knight Sports Complex: Counting the balls after practice
Spain: I can’t believe I’m here
Texas: Chuy’s Tex-Mex
Sarah Palin: Bill Maher. He ripped her so much on his show. [Laughter]

pC: Favorite Food?
AW: My favorite foods are anything from Sonic and peanut butter straight from the jar…although it is quickly turning to Paella (it originated in my area) and Nutella. I LOVE chocolate. [Laughter]

pC: What Band/Group I would find most of on your iPod?
AW: I listen to a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers and anything from Benny Benassi. I listen to so much but those and Ingrid Michaelson are usually a few clicks away on my ipod.

pC: One movie you could watch over and over?
AW: I could watch Atonement everyday. I love that movie and others from that genre/time period

pC: One TV show you cannot miss?
AW: If I missed an episode of True Blood or LOST I’d probably go crazy…the final season of LOST starts this week!

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
AW: I am usually at the beach in my spare time, I played the cello for 12 years so I intend to buy one and pick it back up. I gave it up for volleyball but now I have the time to play again and play so we’ll see how that goes.

pC: Two websites you have to check daily?
AW: I check Facebook and The Huffington post daily, I love them both.

pC: I spend way too much on...
AW: I spend way too much on bath and body products for sure. At least I smell nice though!

pC: I need to sell my _____ on eBay
AW: I need to sell my car and get a new one! Can you do that on Ebay? [Laughter]

pC: This Halloween I'd like to dress as....
AW: This Halloween I am dressing as a Flamenco dancer!!!

pC: Best show I saw on TV last week
AW: Best show I saw last week was a re-run of family guy where Stewie kills Lois. I was captivated all over again.

We at would like to thank Ashley Woods for being so gracious with her time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson, Mike Rumph, Carlos Huerta and more!

All photos were taken by JC Ridley and were purchased at JC's blog can be found at:

Bookmark and Share

Tracking proCanes - Carlos Huerta - Part II

In Part II of our interview with Carlos Huerta he talks about the differences between Coach Johnson and Coach Erickson, how he got the number 27, where he thought the toughest place to play was, what he thinks of the current state of Hurricane football and much more! Click here to read Part I of our EXCLUSIVE interview with Carlos Huerta.

pC: So what would you say was the toughest part about playing at Miami?
CH: Once I made the team it wasn’t tough. It was earning the starting position. After that, I would say what kept me focused was you know, we had such great athletes on offense and defense, leading scoring team in the nation just about, number one defense almost every year. I always felt like alright, “I can’t lag behind those guys, I don’t want to be the weak link” so I kind of made it a point to really be on top of my game, but once you’re a starter you’re given every opportunity to succeed and coming from that position that I told you about where I was kind of treated like garbage, I never wanted to go back there. I kept clean, I went to class, I tried to keep my mouth shut usually and work hard so I’d perform well. But you know the coaching staff and this team definitely seemed to always put me in a position to succeed and I didn’t want to let them down, but making the team was the toughest.

pC: What would you say was your favorite memory? Does it come down to a specific kick you made or the National Championships?
CH: My favorite memories are winning those very high profile games. Beating Florida State when they were ranked number one, my first game ever.

pC: The was the game FSU made the rap video for. . .
CH: Correct. 1988 and it was prime time TV, I think it was a Monday night game. We were on ABC prime time. Winning at Michigan, beating Notre Dame here, beating the Nebraskas, LSU, Alabama and the Sugar Bowl, Texas and the Cotton Bowl. You know I used to watch those games as a fan and it was surreal to actually be on the team and win, I thought I was in fantasy land. So it wasn’t so much my individual performances. The way I looked at it is, if I made a game winning field goal or an important kick, I HAD to do that or I’d be letting my team down so you know you can’t win by yourself so it was the team aspect and winning those big games that is indescribable when you grow up being the fan of a hometown school and being in that position.

pC: Talk about being in the room when Jimmy Johnson popped in the FSU’s rap video for all of you to see.
CH: The one thing about our teams as intense as they were, great players, great athletes, and I’m sure it’s similar in a lot of other places, but I specifically remember those UM teams, we had a lot of very funny guys on the team so anytime anything outrageous occurred the reactions of our teammates was what I always looked for because they were hilarious. The shock factor was good in and of itself, but to see the reactions of the players; they just went off. When that video was shown to us and then to see the reaction of these players was funny but it almost made me think there’s no way we’re losing that game because these guys are going to go bonkers on Monday night. It almost, in my head, took the pressure off because I saw everybody was ready.

pC: You played with a bunch of greats to say the least, if you could name one who would you say was the top player you played with at UM?
CH: There are so many and it’s so difficult, but I’m kind of also the typical fan that’s impressed with the premier players, the wide receiver and the running back that make such exciting plays so I’m not going to give the Russell Marylands and the Cortex Kennedys and the Greg Marks, the line backers [Jesse} Armstead, [Michael]Barrow, [Darrin] Smith, what they deserve. There just are so many. I just have to say this; one thing that amazes me is the kick off coverage team. This is what amazes me, when we beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in 89-90, usually in college you could travel a lot of players and it’s the younger players who do the special teams. I think that there were eight eventual NFL Pro Bowl players covering kickoffs for our team at the time, so how can you pick? If you start going down the line they may not have made the Pro Bowl every year, but they at least made the Pro Bowl once. That same team set a record, I wasn’t the punter, but the total return yardage against our team that year all season, not average, was 4 yards TOTAL.

pC: On punt returns?
CH: Yeah, punt returns those are basically the same guys covering punts. So Darrin Smith was an absolute freak of nature because he was so fast. Darryl Williams, the safety, was amazing. There were some younger players that amazed me talent-wise that maybe aren’t as great in everybody’s mind but, Horace Copeland was such a freak of nature so fast, so strong. Chris T. Jones was amazing, Steve McGuiire before his knee injury was phenomenal. Gino was a great quarterback but in terms of prototype college quarterback for me, Walsh was incredible, he just always made the right decisions.

pC: He didn’t have the strongest arm but.
CH: Right and that’s probably why he didn’t start in the NFL for as long as he could have. We had some great running backs, I don’t feel I was a teammate of Melvin Bratton, I was a redshirt that year, and I was only with him for that season, but he was incredible to see play. One of my roommates that blew out his knee and later never started as much but in practice as a linebacker was one of the most amazing players I ever saw was Matt Britton. He was number 99, he ended up backing up Michael Barrow and playing a lot when they played the four linebackers. He just wasn’t the same after his knee injury but what he would do in practice, he would just terrorize the offense, and not just because he was my roommate. There were just so many players. To watch Brett Perriman and Randall Hill run they would look like they weren’t human, so I could just go on and on. There were just some really, really talented guys.

pC: Who were you closest with? Your best friends?
CH: I’d say Mario Cristobal, Matt Britton were probably my two closest friends, we were roommates and Eric Miller.

pC: Any coaches you still talk to?
CH: Rob Chudzinski, he’s a coach now, he was my teammate. I’m still real close with him. He’s out west. I speak with him. You know, I run into Jimmy Johnson here and there, it’s not like I call him up on the phone but its really good to see him during our functions, but there aren’t many of them that I really call up on the phone, but I actually was thinking about giving Dennis Erickson a call recently.

pC: You played under Jimmy and Dennis. Jimmy is the fiery type and kept everybody in line and Dennis is perceived as kind of loose and let the players run the show. Many people say Dennis was given the keys to the Porsche told not to wreck it. Talk about that difference and was it as a loose as it’s portrayed under Dennis?
CH: That’s a good question. When I think back on those two coaches, they are extremely different, no doubt. I kind of think of Jimmy Johnson as a more defensive and special teams kind of coach. He always preached to win all three phases and we were really good at winning all three phases when he was here and he really monitored those two aspects of the game. It seems like he really didn’t touch the offense at all that was Gary Stevens’ domain. It was a brilliant thing to do because Gary Stevens was a great offensive coordinator. Jimmy was brilliant for doing that and letting the right guy do that yet I think after that Penn State loss, which I was just a fan I wasn’t on the team, I don’t know how he was before that but Jimmy Johnson just would not let you breathe on special teams if you weren’t doing it right. I think we had the best special teams in the country. I think that Penn State game was lost not because of Vinny Testaverde. I think they got whipped on special teams. Granted Vinny did not have his usual game, but if they would have played well on special teams, they still would have won that game and Johnson was a fanatic about it and it showed on the field, we were phenomenal.

Dennis was an offensive genius. He really was great on offense and again he was also pretty smart in letting Sonny Lubick run the defense. He was a really good defensive coordinator and he kind of let him do that and we had an amazing defense. My senior year we were number one in the country and it wasn’t because of Dennis, I mean he oversaw it, but he let the right guy run it. So in terms of giving the keys to the Porsche, I’ve heard that statement too, I think that’s probably true. While I was here with Dennis, did we have some problems and issues? Yeah, we had some disciplinary issues, we did some things that were incorrect but on the field I thought that we were a disciplined football team. I think that a lot of the players at the time were Johnsons’ and we had been educated under that system and we were a well oiled machine but you’ve got to give Erickson credit for not coming and putting in a different oil and ruining the engine. I mean you’ve got to give him the credit. They were polar opposites in style and method though. I thought they both worked, I considered Johnson one of the most influential people I’ve ever been exposed to though. He is a genius in a lot of ways and an incredible talent. Dennis I think did an amazing job, but Johnson I think was just an incredibly talented guy.

pC: So were you one of the players actively asking for Gary Stevens after Jimmy Johnson left?
CH: Yes.

pC: Talk a little bit about that. Was it a group of players that went to then Athletic Director Sam Jankovich’s office?
CH: You know I didn’t do that, I think there was a group that did that, but I was definitely vocal in the local newspapers and in interviews. I was once referred to as the team spokesperson, which I don’t think I was, but I was really lobbying for Gary Stevens. Gary had proven himself as offensive coordinator and we wanted him he was our own guy.

pC: Why the number 27?
CH: Do you know that story?

pC: No
CH: Oh. That’s pretty funny. For me it is. Johnson’s management style was that he really kind of kept you guessing lots of times. Now it’s less, but we had like 95 scholarship players and we had like 18 substantial walk-ons. So we’re already over 110. So I was just this walk-on that nobody expected to ever do anything, so I didn’t have a number. Our largest offensive lineman was 6’9 and he moved to tightend for the Oklahoma game because he was going to be a special blocker as a dual tightend and so they gave me his jersey, 6 foot 9, 300 pound guy’s jersey. I wore that jersey at that Orange Bowl and it was beyond a long sleeve shirt. Well, I tucked it in, I think they ripped the name off the back so I wasn’t Schaffer, but I was number 78. So I never really had a number, I was a piece of garbage. So I told you that whole story about how I got a little bit of a shot during spring and Kim and I competed for the job and I didn’t even know I was going to be the starting kicker. I had my head down, showing up to work everyday doing the best I could, none of the coaches ever told me I was going to be the starting kicker.

pC: Until when?
CH: None of them ever did! So we had our orange and white game and I had a very good scrimmage and Edgar’s leg was done, he could barely kick and he didn’t. It was starting to get close to the time where the coaches would pin down all our starters so I’m optimistic and hoping I get the job. Jimmy Johnson’s office used to be where the academic offices are now and I was walking by his office and I never really wanted to hang out by his office, I needed to go by his office because I had to get to a meeting or something and he saw me flying by and he yelled at me and he said ‘hey Carlos!’ and I went and took a couple of steps back and said “yeah coach.” He says ‘you did really well last night’ and I said, “ok thanks I felt pretty good.” I missed the 55-yarder by a little bit and said “I wish I would have got the 55-yarder but thanks” and that was it. So I think there were five days before the Florida State game and I think the next morning or something Rich Davenport who I think is still with the Dallas Cowboys asks me to go do an interview. I was in his office and he says ‘here, by the way, here’s your jersey. You’re number 27.’ Not ‘hey you’re playing in the game’ but I didn’t want to ask the question because if you’re doing well you just want to act like you are the guy, so I kind of looked up at him and Rich was always great to me, he really looked out for me I thought, and he’s a great guy. I remember he was standing and I was sitting and I kind of looked up and go “I don’t even get a chance to choose a number?” and he says ‘nope, because the only other number left is number 55 and its just way too big for you, so you’re number 27.’ And that’s how I found out I was playing in the game. It was obviously a really, really huge moment for me, I wanted that job and worked really hard for it.

pC: And you kept the number. I’m sure maybe you could have changed it later on if you had a choice?
CH: Remember, I was very superstitious my first two years, I wasn’t about to change that number, it was working! [Laughter]

pC: Were you an All-American your senior and your junior years?
CH: As a freshman I was a freshman All-American and then sophomore and junior I was either honorable mention or third team or something. Then my senior year I think I was consensus All-American. I’m pretty sure, but yeah I was Walter Camp, and AP and Kodak which I think at the time were the All-American teams.

pC: Did you have a nickname?
CH: Just ‘The Ice Man.’ Still to this day, it stuck. I mean I don’t think they would all call me that but yeah, my high school coach gave me that name.

pC: What would you say was the toughest place to play?
CH: The toughest place to kick in terms of conditions that I ever played in was Missouri because I remember there were 40 something mile an hour winds coming off the plains and you just didn’t know what the ball was going to do. You could kick it perfectly and totally miss or kick it kind of bad and the wind would carry it in. In terms of stadiums, and irritating crowds, I’d say Florida State and Notre Dame are rough, really rough.

pC: Would they taunt you a lot?
CH: Oh everybody would. I mean they were just right on top of you. The screaming and the yelling right on top of you because once they get a little bit of distance from you it all kind of sounds the same but it was just a real tight stadium and they kind of get in your ear and you can hear what they’re saying.

pC: Who would you say was the most influential person in developing your kicking game specifically?
CH: I never had a coach in kicking. Nobody really worked with me technically. I was just a soccer player that knew how to kick.

pC: No formal training?
CH: Zero.

pC: I thought they got special outside coaches?
CH: They do, but on most staffs there are no knowledgeable kicking personnel. They’re just on their own. ‘Hey you’re good, you’re talented, you figure it out.’ But I never had a technical kicking conversation with my high school coach, or Jimmy Johnson, or my special teams coach. You know maybe the special teams coach at the time might have noticed my plant foot might have gone too far and pointed something out every once in a while but no one really ever coached me in that regard. I practiced a lot and I had a natural stroke. I could kick a ball at 6 years old further than most 13 year olds. It wasn’t that I was strong I just had technique, like I said I played soccer every season since I was seven years old and I’d always take the free kicks and just knew how to do it. My high school coach really taught me the mental aspect of kicking and whatever he did worked. He put me in game-like situations everyday and Jimmy Johnson did the same thing and that’s the key because if you don’t make it like a game-like situation, you get into a game and it’s very different. It’s like shooting darts or being out there in war and having to kill somebody is different, you know it’s not that extreme, but kind of. Anybody can leisurely go out and just kick the ball but everybody’s rushing at you and you’ve got to get it off real fast and you’re dealing with the movement of the ball from the holder, the intensity and then a real line jumping up to try and block your kick where you’ve got to get accustomed to getting it up quickly or if not, you’re going to get stuffed. So what they did in practice in making everybody work really hard and making sure that the line wasn’t taking reps off during field goal drills, that really made a big difference

pC: What would you say was the toughest transition for you going professional? I would imagine kicking is the same anywhere you do it.
CH: Yeah, you know a lot of people say that the ball is different and it doesn’t have stripes versus it having stripes.

pC: Isn’t it a little bigger?
CH: The ball is slightly different but it doesn’t affect the kick to me at all. It weighs the same, it feels the same. Again it was that transition of being in such a well run top program and all the pro franchises are not and dealing with the different management and how things are run. When it runs poorly that trickles down to every phase of the game, the players, their attitude and I felt like in the NFL or at least when I was there, a lot of these coaching staffs [were not very impressive] except Marv Leevy’s. Marv Leevy’s team was impressive. He had been there for so long, his coaching staff was excellent, he was excellent. I would have loved to have made that team because of him, but I felt like on the other teams I was on, everyone was either so paranoid to lose their job that they were so stressed out that it was unhealthy, it was an unhealthy mental environment and it was counterproductive to being a really top performer. So that was pretty tough because everybody around you is on edge, it’s almost like they assume the worst and that’s not a good environment.

pC: It just seems that it’s more of a business.
CH: Yeah, we felt it was a business in college but maybe it’s more, it’s just more pressure you know? I think the fact that there’s a mentality that the pros are being paid and its okay to rag on them and boo them, not that you don’t get ragged on as a college player, but I think there’s more empathy from the fans and the media when you’re just a college kid and not being paid. People don’t get on you as much; I think that does kind of add to the tension you know.

pC: Did you have any other Hurricane teammates when you were with the Bears?
CH: Pat Riley. I think that was it.

pC: Talk about the whole U family. It sounds like you stay well connected. Talk about that bond.
CH: Well we said back then that playing here and being a part of this program may be the most fortunate and best opportunity that we ever would have in our lives. To be a part of a number one program in anything, especially something that you care about and work at, you consider yourself really fortunate and I think that there was some tension at times and everything didn’t always go smoothly but once you get to a level where you’re performing that well and things go that well and you’re that successful, you form bonds that last forever and I think that’s the way it is. We all knew that pushing each other would lead to great success and we knew how to push each other’s buttons for the most part in the right way and it was just a unique situation that I don’t think many of us ever experienced again. You know I think Jimmy Johnson did it with the Dallas Cowboys and I was lucky enough to do it in the Canadian League but it was only for one year and then the team was broken up. We had you five years of continuous success. Those bonds you form, the people that you end up trusting those times usually its something that you don’t lose and that’s the way we are and even those older players that I didn’t play with when they see me they remember me and they know that I affected things positively. You just don’t let that go.

pC: Would you come back soon after you left? Would you help your successor Dane Pruitt?
CH: A lot. I worked with Dane quite a bit. I got cut and I was living here. I was still training because I was still getting tryouts and workouts quite frequently and then signing again so I was taking my workouts really seriously, I would work out in the gym too.

pC: At UM?
CH: Yeah they’d let me workout there, I’d use their fields. The equipment manager would let me use the balls still and I would work with Dane quite a bit, not necessarily during their practice because that was an NCAA violation. I couldn’t go out there and practice but on his off-time, or we’d even meet and go over concepts. Dane was smart and he did a pretty good job, it’s not like he needed me. There was one point where they changed the blocking line and the scheme and did some things differently and that kind of threw his momentum off, but he had a really good career all in all.

pC: He obviously had some pretty big shoes to fill in yours but he did pretty well.
CH: He did. I remember his junior year he missed one field goal all year and he was 3rd team All-American so he did really well.

pC: What do you think about the last couple of years of Hurricane football?
CH: I don’t know if it’s on the right track or going back up. I don’t know enough, but it definitely is much, much better. For the first season in a long time as a fan now and watching, it was exciting to watch them play and you had hope that when they needed to score, Jacory Harris could get it done. I mean they’re explosive, they’re a little young and maybe made a few mistakes that next year they won’t make, but it was exciting to watch them and you had hope. In prior years I don’t know what happened with the offense. It was just so stagnant. I think that the reason they may have dropped off a bit was I kind of felt they had such amazing success with Butch and Larry Coker and then that game against Ohio State, which I still think they got hosed on the call, but they were a great, great team. I think they just kind of rested on their laurels a little bit and stopped working, stopped looking to be that great team. I think they thought ‘hey we’re so good now, we just are on automatic pilot’ and I think that caught up with them.

Word Asssociations: give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Jimmy Johnson: Flawless
Larry Coker: I didn’t know him that well. Classy
Orange Bowl: Mythical
Dennis Erickson: High Scoring
The Ibis: John Routh? John Routh was the best mascot I’ve ever seen. Yeah he was the best
Art Kehoe: Hilarious
The Fiesta Bowl: Motivating
Ohio State: Over achievers
The Sugar Bowl: Which one? We were national champs but people don’t think about that for some reason, everyone thinks of the George Teague one. But I don’t think of that one, I think of the one we won. I want to say trailblazing and the reason I say that, I mean Erickson came in his first year and we won a National Championship, who does that?
Dolphin Stadium, or Landshark Stadium:Jimmy Buffet

pC: Have you been to a game there yet?
CH: No, no I didn’t go all season.

pC: What do you think about that, what do you think about the move from the Orange Bowl?
CH: Financially I’m sure it’s the right decision, but it will never be the same. You can’t create what was at the Orange Bowl. So ultimately, I don’t think that we will have the same success because going to play at that Orange Bowl for opposing teams was awful. We just had such a huge, huge advantage I thought.

pC: Your Favorite NFL team?
CH: I don’t really have one. I mean I follow the NFL, I don’t root for anybody. I’m fascinated with the successful programs. I know the Steelers weren’t great this year but I like that [Chuck] Noll, [Bill] Cowher, [Mike] Tomlin, how the franchise stands behind them, supports them and each of them has won a Super Bowl. There’s something in those organizations and obviously the Patriots are up there every year, you’re not going to win every year, but I’m fascinated by that.

pC: The NBA? Any particular affinity toward that league?
CH: Although I think LeBron James is almost at or will be almost at a Michael Jordan level, the most exciting thing about the NBA to me is Dwayne Wade.

pC: Favorite food?
CH: Ice cream, that’s easy.

pC: What band or group or music would we be most likely to find on your Ipod?
CH: The Beatles

pC: What movie could you watch over and over?
CH: Stripes.

pC: TV show you can’t miss?
CH: It was Seinfeld.

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
CH: Work.

pC: Two websites you have to check daily?
CH: Daily? I don’t have that.

pC: I think we’ve covered everything. Thank you for this.
CH: My pleasure, I like reliving the old days.

We at would like to thank Carlos Huerta for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson, Mike Rumph and more! Click here to read Part I of our EXCLUSIVE interview with Carlos Huerta.

We would like to thank JC Ridley of and for providing us with Carlos Huerta's Chicago Bears photos.

Click here to order Carlos Huerta's proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Tracking proCanes - Carlos Huerta - Part I is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, Chicago Bear, Las Vegas Posse and AFL kicker Carlos Huerta. Huerta, the starting kicker on Miami's 1991 National Championship team, emerged as a walk-on and became a consensus All-American and First-Team All-BIG EAST selection. Huerta, who later played with the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears, established an NCAA record with his 157 consecutive point after attempts (PATs) during his career as a four-year starter (1988-91). He ranks second on the NCAAs all-time scoring list with 397 career points, including 73 field goals. Additionally, Huerta still holds Miami records for career PATs, career field goals, career points, the top three records for consecutive PATs in a season, the top four records for field goals in a season, the top three records for points scored kicking in a season and field goals in a game. During his four years as a starter Huerta led the team in scoring each season. His foot was a significant reason in historic victories, such as hitting a field goal with 43 seconds remaining to give UM the 31-30 edge over the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 1988. Huerta also hit game-winning field goals over Arkansas in 1988 and Michigan State in 1989.

After playing his college football at the University of Miami, Huerta joined the Las Vegas Posse, a Canadian Football League expansion franchise. He was one of the lone bright lights, kicking 38 of 46 field goal attempts and scoring 154 points, and winning the Jackie Parker Trophy, which was good for runner up for the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie Award. After Las Vegas folded he moved to the Baltimore Stallions, where he hit 57 of 72 field goals and scored 228 points, and was part of their 1995 Grey Cup championship season.

The National Football League followed in 1996 and 1997. Huerta played 3 games with the Chicago Bears in 96, hitting 4 of 7 field goals, and one game with the St. Louis Rams in 1997, scoring 2 converts.

From 1998 to 2001 he played in the Arena Football League, with the Florida Bobcats in 1998 and the remainder with the San Jose SaberCats. He would connect on 37 of 85 field goals in the AFL. Also in 1998, Huerta appeared in a playoff game with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Let’s first give an idea to fans as to what you are doing in Las Vegas.
Carlos Huerta: I have a real estate and development investment company. I’m also a licensed real estate broker, but I don’t really broker real estate for commissions more so for trading them and buying them for portfolio or investment for future sale or income. Most of my investors are from Israel and I do have investors in the US as well. I’ve been living in Vegas since 1994 and have had my real estate company for a little over 14 years.

pC: How did you get into real estate?
CH: I always wanted to get into real estate since I was in college or before and when I was in the MBA program at the University of Miami, I was still playing football, but I was kind of looking at a future career and I knew that the west was where the growth was and knew that they needed finance people. I have a finance background so I kind of went out there with a mission to get into that.

pC: So you grew up in Coral Gables?
CH: No, I wish. Coral Gables is one of my favorite places in the world. I love it here. I was born in South Miami hospital, but before I turned one [years old] my father started a business in central Florida so we moved to Orlando and lived there for 11 years and then we moved back after he got a job offer here. I went to junior high, high school and college here so I mean I partly grew up here, obviously throughout my five years at UM and one year we lived in Coral Gables before I went to UM. I went to Christopher Columbus high school and Belen before that. So 7th, 8th and 9th grades, I went to Belen and then Columbus after that.

pC: So were you always a Miami Hurricane fan growing up?
CH: I became a huge Hurricane fan when we moved back and that was the Jim Kelly era. I started getting into that and then when Kosar came in, I was an off the chart Hurricanes fan and would go to the Orange Bowl for games. I liked to sit in the student section and do that whole thing. I would sneak down there when I was in high school, it was just off the charts. Prior to that when we lived in central Florida, believe it or not, I was kind of a Seminole fan because we had the Bobby Bowden show and they were pretty good and I didn’t really know about the Hurricanes actually. I was a Dolphin fan always and then an FSU fan but when we moved here for junior high I started becoming a huge Hurricane fan. So, when I was in high school I played some football as a kicker, I really didn’t play any other position. I was playing soccer and I actually thought I was going to go and be a soccer player in college and I had some scholarship offers but none in football and my soccer coach, who I respected a lot and kind of looked out for me, suggested I try to go play football in college. He was kind of saying; ‘hey you’re not good enough in soccer.’ [Laughter] Actually I got hurt a lot, I just kept getting my ankles hurt, so I kind of took his advice and I considered a bunch of different schools. I was kind of a recruited walk-on from a bunch of different schools; Oklahoma State, Tulane, Colgate. I just said, if I’m going to play and I’m going to make the sacrifice and have to pay for school and be a walk-on, I might as well go for the gusto. If I play, I only want to play for UM which ended being the best decision I ever made. But it was a naive and dumb decision. Dumb. Dumb. I was naïve and young because I really was very, very fortunate that I even ever had a shot to play here.

pC: How did that happen?
CH: I was a walk-on. I was on the scout team. I used to have to run plays and call plays and I felt like a slave my first year. I would get beat up on by the lineman in drills and they outweighed me by over 100 lbs. It was crazy and I never dealt with that before so that first year I was a redshirt. Our kicker in Miami was a second team All-American. Greg Cox. He had a phenomenal season and no one was going to beat him out and it was not even a consideration. So, it was kind of like pay your dues, hang out, and maybe next year you’ll get a shot. I did that kind of reluctantly, I wanted to quit like three times. I think one time I was so pissed I didn’t come to practice.

pC: Were you the scout team quarterback?
CH: No they just used bodies for drills. They make you run plays against their…

pC: First team defense [Laughter]
CH: Yeah and I used to have to hold up chains for the first down marker. When Gary Stevens was doing his offensive play calling and scrimmaging during the practices they would want someone to speak into the microphone and record what the play was on microphone before the play so that when they’re watching video someone would be saying this is whatever play. I used to have to do that every drill and Gary Stevens was a hard ass, so he wanted you to do it into the mic and he wanted all the players who were not in the play to know what the play was so they could track it. So, he’d want you to go up and tell them what the play was, but they’re standing the width of the field, 63 yards, and you’re having to go tell them all but then if you said it too loud he’d yell at you because he didn’t want the defense to hear what it was so that they could stump the play. So, sometimes you’d kind of be in a hurry and you’d have to go say it and you’d say it too loud and he’d curse at you ‘don’t say it so loud!’ There would be times when I was just so mad from being told what to do. I had a huge chip on my shoulder and I just wanted to go out there and kick but I couldn’t, so I had to deal with that. The only times I could actually practice kicking was when everybody went inside then they’d give me the balls so I could kick and practice.

pC: So you didn’t practice the whole season?
CH: The whole season, never. Ever, I mean a little bit during two-a-days because they would give everybody a try but no one is really paying attention unless you’re the starting kicker.

pC: So that was the first year?
CH: That was my redshirt season which was 1987 and they were National Champs and undefeated. So it was a phenomenal team and season. After that season there were three kickers on scholarship. One of them which came from Ft. Lauderdale Eli high school, Sum Kim was his name, and he was the scholarship guy and the heir apparent to Greg Cox. He was very talented and had a strong leg and everything and really wanted to play football and was really into it. He had received a scholarship by Miami after he had hurt his knee playing soccer and had a reconstructive knee surgery. He was still really good in high school went to the surgery and passed all the tests and they said his knee had fully recovered. The first season during our redshirt season he was fine and kicking well but something happened toward the end of that year where his knee started to get really aggravated again so come spring ball, I don’t even think he was able to kick or he was half of what he was, so now they were kind of looking. There was still another scholarship kicker they had brought in and they had a returning kicker who was earning a scholarship who was the kickoff specialist who was a really good kicker as well. So, when Kim kind of started hurting, they kind of started giving me a shot to compete with the other guy and it ended up that I ended up battling it out with the kick off specialist and it was probably the hardest thing I ever did in my life.

pC: Who was that?
CH: Edgar Benes. He had an extremely strong leg. He could kick the ball a lot further than I could especially on kickoffs, but I worked real hard, I was very intense and I kind of convinced Coach Johnson one day to give me a chance because I felt they would kind of look at me, but not really give me a chance. You know I was undersized, Cuban, not on scholarship, they don’t want to give up a scholarship kid for a walk-on, it doesn’t make business sense and then they didn’t want to have to give me a scholarship on top of that. I kind of convinced him to give me a shot. I got in his face one day and nobody really did that, and I think he was kind of impressed by that and so he nodded kind of with this nervous chuckling nod and said ‘okay I’ll put you in’ because I think he kind of thought he would call me on my bluff. He put me in during a scrimmage and I did really well in the scrimmage and everybody kind of got excited and from that day forward I wasn’t the favorite or anything in spring ball, but now they started giving me looks. Come two-a-day practices before the season they needed to find a kicker, our opening game was against number one ranked Florida State. We started competing for the job and it became very clear then that Kim could not even kick. I don’t even think he could even make it out to the field; his knee was pretty much done, so I ended competing against Edgar. I ended up getting in really, really, really good shape that off-season and the competition was so intense that it was almost a war of attrition. Whoever’s leg gave out on him first lost and I got with the training staff to help me a lot and I just was able to last longer than he was.

Everybody kind of laughs at kickers and I know all the jokes, but you really can compare it to a professional pitcher or a college pitcher that can only pitch a certain amount of pitches. Well they don’t have that concept for kickers even though it’s the same thing because your hip joint takes all the abuse and it’s only got a certain amount of tendons and ligaments that can handle it. Edgar was really competitive so his leg just tired out on him and mine was kind of like rubber at that point, and I could just keep going. I really credit Jimmy Johnson, though. I think I owe him my career. He taught me how to really focus, which was crucial for what I did later on as the field goal kicker because I was a four-year starter. He was so determined to have the best guy out on the field where he was willing to even give the walk-on the job, reluctantly, but he was willing to do it. Other coaches wouldn’t even look at you, so I really respect him for that and I kind of owe him my career

pC: So, you did kickoffs and field goals or did they keep Edgar on as the kick off specialist that first year?
CH: As a redshirt freshman I only did field goals and extra points and Edgar still did the kickoffs. He did very well. He went on to law school and then the next year I did everything.

pC: Is that a lot more difficult? In those days we were scoring a lot more points so it adds a lot and tires your leg out more doesn’t it?
CH: Yes it taxed me. I’m not that big and strong to begin with so I had to really use all the power or strength I could muster to kind of be adequate, so it’s tough and then it’s a bit different because field goals you’re really kicking for accuracy. I know it’s still kicking but it really is kind of a different motion unless you’re so strong. You know, NFL kickers today are 6 feet 6’2 [tall], one guy is 6’5. They’re extremely powerful but unless you can go to the ball like those guys can, where they just go into it easy and can make a 50 yard field goal without blinking, it s not that easy to do . It’s harder than it looks.

pC: You look at a guy like Matt Bosher, currently UM’s kicker, who does everything. That’s got to be really hard especially because punting is totally different, right?
CH: Oh, way different. And one negatively affects the other. Punting actually hurts your kicking. The motion is so different and it’s kind of muscle memory and its still similar enough where I think there are times when you actually go to kick and your muscle takes over and you do a punt and you could absolutely blow your kick. It takes a whole lot of dedication, concentration, focus and talent to be able to go out there and effectively do all three of those things. He’s a very strong kid, he’s very talented and yeah it requires a unique guy to be able to do all that and at the same time you’ve got to avoid injury because one little pull of a muscle, you lose everything. I mean if it’s the wrong muscle you can’t do anything.

pC: So the kicker situation had to be pretty bad for them since it’s so difficult for a kicker to do all three.
CH: Either that or he’s that good. I mean the guy was the MVP of the team last year.

pC: You think he could make it in the pros?
CH: Yes, I think he’s prototype. One of the things that the pro scouts used to say about me is that I was too small. You wouldn’t think that’s an issue but it is for them. He definitely has the size and the strength and now the resume. You know he’s not an NFL kicker yet but he’s got the right resume to get those kinds of looks. I actually am banking on him being a pro.

pC: Have you talked to him?
CH: Minimally. If I see him I do. Every once in a while I’ll email him. I haven’t this season actually, but he doesn’t need much help, I don’t think. Yeah I might mess him up, so I stay away from him.

pC: Are you superstitious or were you superstitious because a lot of times they say how superstitious kickers are? Did you have a certain ritual a cross?
CH: No, not a cross guy. No, I’m Cuban and a catholic, but no. Well first of all I learned later on after my UM career, that rituals are actually a very good thing and they’re recommended by the top sports psychologists. So, ritual is one thing, it’s different from superstition. As a freshman and sophomore I would say I was ritualistic and superstitious as much as anybody. Like I didn’t want to step on white lines or I had all kinds of crazy things. I also felt balancing was important, so if I did something with my left hand, I had to do it with my right hand or my energy would be thrown and then I started to realize or somebody pointed out how I was and I thought this is really ridiculous, I’ve got to get over this stuff! My last couple of years, I was obviously having success on the field, so I had a little bit more confidence and I started to make a point that I was going to rid myself [of the superstitions]. I made a point to try and get rid of every single superstition I had and it was kind of tough, but in a way I kind of enjoyed it and took it up as a personal challenge. I said I’m going to stay in good shape, I’m going to kick well and I’m not going to be superstitious anymore. So I rid myself of those and it was kind of fun actually.

pC: And you started rituals instead?
CH: No, not really but I mean I think athletes and especially lets say a kicker or quarterback that has to do the same motion again and again they actually recommend that you get in the same habits so it becomes the same to you and you take every situation [the same] and keep it as close to the same as they can. Obviously if it’s very windy or if it’s very cold outside you’re going to have to make an adjustment or if the field is slippery you might have to wear different shoes to get traction, so you can’t be in a bubble, but you want to keep it the same as much as possible. You want to warm up in the same way as you usually do so your body is used to it, so it’s all familiar. Familiarity is good, having been there before in your mind increases your confidence which normally increases your peak performance so all those things are considered very prudent things. So, I started getting into those things and then I got into sports psychology, not for a career, but learning about it and I read some books and one specific book made a huge impact on my performance. I didn’t read it till after I left college but it took me to a whole other level kicking wise when I was playing in the pros and it was amazing.

pC: In what way? How did it take you to another level? Not physically right?
CH: Even physically. Both. The book was written by a PhD but he was also a pro tennis player before that. The book’s concept is for an athlete to reach peak performance. It was recommended to me by a friend of mine. I didn’t even know about it and then I’ve since recommended it to other people. It breaks away the accepted schools of thought on a lot of things you take for granted growing up; that all coaches are correct, a lot of them are really crazy and it validated a lot of the right things to do and what to focus on.

One really interesting concept to me is the ability to be graceful under pressure or to be clutch as people call it. Well, my high school coach started calling me the ‘Ice Man’ because I did well under pressure but then that kind of became something that I kind of believed myself and other people started to know and started taking that for granted saying ‘the guy is good under pressure’ and so I said “okay I’m good under pressure” and started thinking that and normally I was. Well, the thing that a lot of people will say is you’re born with that and I also believe that. So, I was experiencing success and I accepted this school of thought, but I started learning in this book that that’s the furthest thing from the truth. You actually learn how to be good under pressure. And it turns out that I had experiences in my athletic career that taught me how to deal with it and how to channel it properly, it wasn’t that I was born with it. So, that was I guess one of my talents that I did perform well in really important situations not that I was such a talented athlete or an amazingly strong leg kicker but that was one of my attributes. I always had a strong leg, relatively speaking, so I took free kicks all the time in soccer when the game was on the line and I started learning how to do that and my high school coach was also really good and would train me in practice and put a lot of pressure on me so by the time you got to the game the game was easy compared to having some maniac yelling in your ear telling you he was going to cut you or kill you if you don’t make it.

Then I got here and Jimmy Johnson would do the same thing, the training was so intense he was screaming and yelling you need to make this kick or we’re going to lose the national championship. Every practice was intense but when I got out in the game and he was far away on the sideline; it was easy, he’s not screaming in my ear. It was something that was learned but actually learning about the fact that that’s actually something learned and then being able to take steps to practice it and be okay with it. So that took me to a whole other level performance wise but then the book also focused on that you can be the most cool cat in the world but if your fundamentals stink you’re going to stink, so I really started focusing more on my fundamentals and on my physical well being. I started learning that when my body fat was down and I was doing well in the weight room and I was doing my sprints [I would perform better]. My body was really toned and the ball really flew of my leg. I got to the CFL, well I first was cut a couple of times in the NFL and then I got to the CFL and especially on away games where we would go to opposing teams’ stadiums to practice, usually we’d practice after their walk through and the other team started stopping in shock to watch me kick in warm ups because I’d be kicking 60 and 65 yard field goals down the middle and here I am this 5’8 skinny guy, well I was a little muscular but overall I’m not a very big guy, and it was kind of a freak thing to watch. So I just really learned a lot and that book kind of did it applying the concepts and focusing on things that were only going to make me better at what I did. So I’m all into that.

pC: You were a clutch kicker, as they call it, so when you got into those situations, coaches would call a time out try and ice you, does that actually work?
CH: Let me ask you a question. If you’re in a physics class and your very advanced physics professor says look I need you to really analyze the theory of relativity and prove Einstein is wrong, would you rather have a day to do that or would you rather have 40 days?

pC: I’d take 40.
CH: If you’re going to make a game winning field goal against Notre Dame and it’s from a pretty good distance, would you rather have time to properly center yourself, take the right steps, make sure you’re aligned properly, make sure that your center is comfortable, and not off balance so he can center the ball back appropriately, that you’re holder is ready to take the ball? You always want more time.

That icing the kicker thing is the dumbest thing ever. But there aren’t any kickers who are head coaches and most of the coaches believe this false fallacy and they continue to do it and I just roll my eyes. If you’re a kicker that’s worth anything you want to be out there and be able to set up, make sure you’re understanding the wind, check you’re plant foot and make sure the grass isn’t going to give out from under you and other things. It’s just asinine.

pC: At least someone puts that to rest.
CH: Nobody will listen.

pC: I guess if you’re a current kicker you’d never admit to it because you want the opposing team to keep using timeouts.
CH: I hated to be rushed because then, it isn’t like you’re practice. You want to do it like the practice.

pC: What was the longest field goal you’ve ever made?
CH: In Canada I made a 59 yarder, in college a 54 yarder. In the NFL I think was like a 46 yarder or something. I didn’t play long in the NFL though.

pC: You were with the Bears and your stay with them ended in controversy. Talk about that.
CH: First of all Dave Wanstedt didn’t really know what he was doing when it came to special teams and he kind of screwed a lot of things up, but that’s a long story. The other controversy, I mean I was a good kicker I should have lasted longer than I did, but the other controversy was that the Bears in 1985 they won their Super Bowl. They are still legendary in that town and I took the place of Kevin Butler who was the last remaining Chicago Bear from the ‘85 Super Bowl and everybody loved ‘butthead.’ I took his job and they hated me because of it, even my teammates.

pC: So that must have made it pretty miserable for you.
CH: Yeah I hated going to work everyday.

pC: Obviously your performance isn’t going to be very good on game day either, or as good as it could be let’s say.
CH: At that point it was Adam Vinatieri’s first year. We all know what he became. I used to train with Vinatieri. He has a much stronger leg than I do, but at that time there was no comparison on who was more accurate. When we went on the field he might have the stronger leg but I would blow him away kick after kick. He was I think 2 for 7 and had missed 3 extra points and they didn’t cut him. I think I had missed 3 field goals no extra points, two of the field goals I’d made I shouldn’t have even kicked because the snap was so bad I had to stop mid stride on a 44-yard field goal I remember. Wanstedt had won the first game against the Cowboys and I kicked two field goals in the 4th quarter to kind of ice the game. It was Monday night football and they were Super Bowl champs. But then we lose two games and Wanstedt was the type of guy that when he was feeling the heat, he always found a scapegoat and I was the scapegoat for the week. Sometimes it was his quarterback and that’s what he was. But whatever, you don’t have much of a chance to make it, that was my chance. I then I played for the Rams and then never played again.

pC: Did you want to keep playing? Was it tough to stop?
CH: I wanted to keep playing. I went to the World League after that and went to the training camp with the Buffalo Bills and had a great training camp. But Steve Cristie was like an all-pro kicker, I didn’t make it. In my career I went up against John Carney, who still was kicking until this season till he was 45 years old, made it to the Pro Bowl a lot of times. I went up against Al Del Greco who when I was up against him, was probably kicking better than he ever has. Butler and then Steve Cristie and in the NFL there’s no back up kicker, you’re either a starter or you’re gone. So all these guys were really, really, great kickers and I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time and I’m not so talented where I can just show up and make the coaches say ‘wow I want this guy.’ I was just a guy that performed really steadily all the time. I think to this day I’m still the most accurate kicker in the history of the Canadian Football League. I did get hurt too.

pC: What did you injure?
CH: I injured my kicking leg and I didn’t quite come back until it was kind of too late. I wanted to keep playing but I got into a situation where I felt that I was in the best possible situation in college that anybody could actually dream of being in. It was my hometown, my favorite team, we were champs every other year and I was kind of a star player towards the end. I knew what success was. To go to some of these pro franchises and win three, four, five games and be under coaches who were not a Jimmy Johnson, not a Dennis Erickson and then the Canadian League, where we were Grey Cup Champions. They were so amazing to work under and I’d go to guys that weren’t that and think I don’t want to be here. I was spoiled. I’m not going to get to really perform like I should under theses guys, so I was kind of starting to try and look for the right situation where I could be under a coach that I felt was worth playing for but I wasn’t good enough to necessarily always get that opportunity. But it’s tough to take a step back like that.

We would like to thank JC Ridley of and for providing us with Carlos Huerta's Chicago Bears photos.

Click here to read Part II of our exclusive interview with Carlos Huerta to read what Huerta has to say about Coach Johnson and Coach Erickson, how he got the number 27, where he thought the toughest place to play was, what he thinks of the current state of Hurricane football and much more!

Click here to order Carlos Huerta's proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Tracking proCanes - Mike Rumph - Part II

In Part II of our interview with Mike Rumph he talks about the differences between Coach Davis and Coach Coker, Terrell Owens, what the Hurricanes need to do to get back on top, "The U" Documentary and much more! Click here to read Part I of our EXCLUSIVE interview with Mike Rumph.

proCanes: Talk about Butch Davis and Larry Coker as coaches. They say Butch was a disciplinarian and Larry was loose. Talk about that difference and was it that obvious of a difference between the two and did Larry have as much control as Butch?
Mike Rumph: The good thing that Coach Coker had was great assistants. When you’ve got great assistants you’re always going to look good and I think that really helped him. I think he did a good job when he came in. I was a senior he didn’t bother the seniors really, but he would get on the young guys and I think that’s smart. Just overall discipline of how things go kind of changed when Coker became the coach. We did a lot of initiations and stuff like that [with Butch Davis] but he came in and stopped it. I thought that was important because that made me and my class really close because we had to stick together. We had to earn our respect with the older guys and I think that’s very important, but it comes to a point when you’re getting too physical with the guys when there’s fights and stuff. It comes to a point where you don’t want injuries, but I think there’s still got to be something. You’ve got to make those freshman earn it. The freshmen felt like they didn’t have to earn it, they felt like I’ve already arrived I’m here and nobody will give them a bother. With Butch Davis though, he was like turning the other shoulder, like I don’t know what’s going on and in the meantime we were fighting for our lives in there. [Laughter]

pC: What sort of initiations?
MR: You had to shave your head. If you play slick and go home and shave it without us doing it they try to do your eyebrows so you’ve got to deal with that. We had to jump off the big platform diving board off the pool. One day we were out there stretching, it was two-a-days, hot, it was like day 10 and he’s like ‘hey go over there and take those pants off and go to the pool.’ We were like 'awe here we go again,' but we didn’t know they were going to make the freshman jump off the tallest diving boards and I’m afraid of heights! We had two guys that couldn’t swim and they had to jump anyways. Kenny Dangerfield and Anthony Fisher, they had to jump anyway and they had the lifeguard waiting for them at the bottom. Shaving your head, singing, sing at lunchtime. That’s as far as I can get into all that. But like taping your locker up, that’s one thing that got me as a freshman. You would practice and get a little break in between practice and you didn’t want to hang around so you would go somewhere else because if you stayed in the facilities there would be horsing around and you would get no rest and you might have to fight somebody, so you would disappear until five minutes before it’s time to go back to meeting. We would come in and five minutes before the meeting your locker has so much tape around your lock. So, you’re like oh shit, you don’t want to be late and you’re trying to undo this tape and they’re just dying laughing. Other times, five minutes before practice you come and get dressed and your helmet is missing and they’re like I don’t know and you’re the like last one in there and another guy in there says ‘you might want to check the ceiling’ and you go up and check and find your helmet there. Can you imagine that as a freshman? You don’t want to mess up, you don’t know nobody, you’re coming in and you’ve got this much tape (Rumph shows two inches of tape with his hand) on your lock and the meeting is in two minutes.

pC: Did former players come back and train you?
MR: Ryan McNeill. Duane Starks. To this day I still get mentored by Duane. He’s a good business man too. But Duane Starks, we did a lot of drills together. Reggie [Wayne] and all of them always came back. Edgerrin is one of the guys who started all that stuff. I look at him as one of the god fathers of going through the probation years and then coming and being one of the first guys that started the first round draft pick streak. He was one of the first guys of being a first round pick and one of the first guys that said I’m not going work out at the combine. Why train in Indianapolis and go through the combine there when next week they are going to be doing the same thing in South Florida in the sun with the fans behind your back. So, we all decided were not going to work out up there and we’re going to train in Miami. Edgerrin was one of the first guys to do that, so I always look at him as one of the god fathers. He’s a really smart guy as business man and as a football player and most people don’t know that but he helped me understand how things were going to be as a junior and senior and what to look forward to. Al Blades too. He was a crazy guy but really emotional leader and the big brother on the team. You would always go to him if you had a problem because he had your back no matter what. He was a good guy to be on the field with because he intimidated a lot of the other players.

pC: He was one of my favorite players to come through “The U.”
MR: He was a great, hard hitter. Really pretty athletic guy. Understood the defense but really good on the motivation and intensity he brought to the game, like a Ray Lewis. When I went to the 49ers, Dorsey went there and Al Blades was there already and he had gotten so much better. I could just remember watching film and I was like “that’s Al?” His footwork was so much better. He got so much better being out there with the 49ers. He passed you know at such a young age.

pC: Why the number 8?
MR: I was 4 in high school. So I figured I was going to be 4 but it wasn’t available. Najeh [Davenport] had it. So I got 8.

pC: Any nicknames?
MR: When I was at UM, “eight ball.” When I played the 49ers they called me Old G. That’s because I was one of the oldest players in the locker room I was like 24.

pC: Really?
MR: 25 is old man!

pC: You were drafted in '02 and you were the last Hurricane drafted in the 1st round. Talk about how a lot of people might call you a bust. You went through a lot of injuries and they tried to move you to safety. What was the hard part of transitioning and did you play as long as you would have liked?
MR: The tide changes in the NFL a lot just like the ocean. I was in a lot of rough tides. I went through three different coaches in the 49ers in the last four years and that’s tough even in the business. If you’re in the business and you got a new boss every year it’s hard to adapt and most new bosses want to bring in their own employees. I went from Mariucci and the playoffs. He got fired the day after the playoffs which was stupid. Then to Dennis Erickson for one year, then to Mike Nolan for two years and with Nolan he moved me to safety so I said, “great here we go I’m going to show you how I can play safety” and in the first day he moved me to safety I tore a ligament in my foot. So I came back a year later as a safety. I was jacking people up every game, I was player of the week, I was jacked up killing people as safety and he moved me back to corner. Right after that they traded me to the Redskins. I was upset but the Redskins just came off of second playoffs in ‘05 so I was like okay. I’m playing with Sean [Taylor], I’m playing with Rocky McIntosh, Santana [Moss], all my guys are there so I’m good. So when I went to the Redskins I had what’s called a cage locker. Its not a real locker it’s just a moveable one for guys that are not going to last. I had that locker, I had never had that being a first round pick, I never had a locker like that so I just took that to build my fire and I went out there and had one of the best pre-seasons of my team.

So right away I made a team, they brought me to replace Shawn Springs who was hurt but he came off his injury like midway through the season and they deactivated me right when he got healthy. That means you could watch but you can’t play. They deactivated me for six games. I had a knee bursa which means that there’s fluid in my knee but I had that week one and I played all seven games with that and my stats weren’t bad. I had good stats. I didn’t get scored on and that game he came back I got scored on with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison on a five yard slant for a touchdown. That’s the only time I got scored on the whole year. All the other guys got scored on every game and Shawn came back and they deactivated me, so after that I went to free agency as a guy who only played seven games in the season and people want to know why I only played that much. That was messed up. It’s hard to come home and explain to your son because he was like ‘why you not playing’ and whatever so it was kind of tough but then I went into free agency and I went to the Rams and that was one of the worst mistakes. That’s like leaving UM to go to Florida State.

pC: Did you have a choice?
MR: Yeah, but my agent was saying that’s the best position for me and the whole time he was the best agent but at the end it kind of faded away and he couldn’t get too much going for me. So I was just upset with the unloyalty of the league and jumping from team to team. I was always like I bleed for whatever team I’m on that’s my team. I hated moving around and I had to move my family like three times and my kids leaving school every few months. I just told myself I can make more money if I really work hard, I can make more money without football and as a business man instead. I really believe that. It’s taking me a little long but who knew that the recession was going to come up. I retired in ‘07 and the recession hit right there. So it was hard to start my puppy business and Play Fast in the middle of a recession.

pC: Was it a hard transition to safety?
MR: It is. The change from corner safety is tough but what helped me is, being a corner I knew what I wanted my safety to do. I knew what I would like in my safety because I had some really good safeties playing with me so I instantly became that guy who I wanted my safeties to be; a communicator, and intimidator, a guy that could cover, a guy that could come up with plays against the run and that’s pretty much it as a safety. You could call all the plays but you’ve got to be thinking on the run but it wasn’t a hard transition for me because I played it. I had so much success I knew what I would want a safety to be. I never shut up. I was always talking. Watch this one, watch that one, when the motion comes they’re going to do this, when they switch covers and all that stuff. I was just constantly talking and that way we would always know what’s going on and we might be wrong but when we’re wrong everybody’s wrong not I’m wrong and you’re right. The communication aspect of it, that’s what I brought to the game and I think I didn’t have enough time as a safety because I told Reed, I always messed with Reed a lot saying "I’ll be a better safety than you in the league man." But he has really good hands. It wasn’t a bad transition for me at all and I shocked a lot of my teammates and a lot of my coaches how I came up and was really aggressive with the run.

pC: Who was one person that was influential in developing your game?
MR: I've got to say Nick Ward was the guy. I just couldn’t understand. I thought he was one of the best corners out there but I think he got into Butch Davis’ doghouse and they didn’t play him. In practice he was outstanding but in games it never really turned on in the games. But he was a guy that taught me a lot. Jeff Popovich was a guy who I trained with a lot my sophomore year that helped me improve. He was the guy where we worked out for two hours with Swasey and then I'd say "Jeff let’s do 30 more minutes of football drills" and he was like ‘let’s go!’ That same guy that Jeff was for me in college I had guys like that in high school. I always picked the guy that I knew they didn’t mind working. If I was going to work out, I was going to work out with the hardest worker, Delvin Brown. If I’m going to run sprints, I’m next to Santana. If I’m going against a receiver, I’m trying to go against the best, so I was always putting myself with people that were going to push me to the next level. Influential players Nate Webster, the tenacity, everybody knows Nate. Nate was an inspirational player, Al [Blades] was, Coach Pagano, Coach Shannon.

pC: Do you have any game day traditions? Songs?
MR: Yeah, Sade. That’s my girl. She’s like my girl that my wife don’t know, but she don’t know either. [Laughter] But that’s my favorite, man. As a corner you gotta manage the rah, rah, rah, to be really focused and calm. I would warm up real intense but when I got into the locker room right before the game I’d kinda put on my Sade and mellow out. Just relax and start really mentally focusing on my technique and how I’m going to place my receiver. I would listen to her, Sade’s greatest hits, and Lover’s Rock. When I got a little older Lover’s rock became my one and I’d play between tracks #2 thru #4 and I’d fall asleep sometimes in my locker. You know you’re so nervous and you’re just like already relaxing and you fall asleep. But that’s my girl before the game I always listen to her.

pC: What do you think is the biggest difference between playing in NFL and college?
MR: The overall speed of the game. People say the speed of the receiver or corner. I didn’t see a big difference because I had going up against a lot of talent but those offensive lineman and defensive lineman, they’re so fast and so agile . The first game in the NFL I see a lineman come in and I was like I’ll do a little move like this and the lineman did the same thing and I was like how’d he get me like that? Those big guys, they’re just so agile like that and those big guys as soon the quarter back says hut they’re already at you. You gotta learn to hit them low. When you hit them in the knees they have to fall anyway.

pC: You were TO’s (Terrell Owens) teammate he wasn’t as crazy in San Francisco as when he went to the Eagles, and Cowboys. How was he as a teammate?
MR: TO was a good teammate. He’s great to have on your team. He has his circle of people who he really trusts, that he deals with on a daily basis and sometimes he may not let everybody in on his circle. He’s from a country town, grew up with his grandma just like me and I guess he just didn’t have a lot and once he got the money they say money doesn’t really change you it just brings out who you really are, so he was just like a damn country boy with an attitude and what people don’t understand is TO played under Jerry Rice and that’s where he gets that work ethic from. He has great work ethic but at the same time, I think he just talks himself out of a lot of money. If TO just shut up and played, he’d probably be one of the richest, best players in the league, but he talks his teammates and coaches under the bus sometimes and that just gets him into trouble. But this guy, he never worked out with us. He has his own little workout regimen. I call him a genetic freak. I saw a picture when he was 14, he looked the same. We’re all in the gym going hard and TO doesn’t work out or anything he’s just all ripped up. [Laughter]

pC: He tore up the locker room in Dallas, can one guy really do that?
MR: Yeah. TO would come in like, if the meeting is at 8 he would come in at 7:59 and I think he did that on purpose, like to say this is me. He would always be like I’m the last one, always the last one to come into meetings. He’ll be in practice and the quarterback might misthrow a ball and he’d be like ‘give me the damn ball! Get the ball to me!’ You’re like, man it’s not that serious you know? That’s the guy who’s going to help you make more money. Who’s going to help you with the longevity of the game. Why are you yelling at him? Talk to him and tell him what you want and he’ll get it to you. Be professional too. So I just think in those instances he could have been more diplomatic and he probably would have stuck with a team a lot longer. But he always had those days. Some days he was cool and some days he’s TO. Some days he’s Terrell some days he’s TO. But I can tell you one thing he was probably one of the hardest workers I played with in the NFL and the thing with him, he was always injured but he would go for like 8 weeks without practicing but every single week he would have 150 yards, 155 yards, 160 yards and it was like the most amazing thing. I’m seeing this guy never practice and he’s just putting up 100 yards every game, so I just think he’s probably one of the best receivers; if he just went out there and played.

pC: You think he was faking the injuries?
MR: No, I think he was injured and he had a whole medical staff come in and take care of him and stuff and San Francisco is just so much more advanced compared to other cities. As far as training-wise, so we had the best, I had acupuncture. I had an old lady 100 yeas old that would rub a special oil on my leg and my hamstring would be better in two days. They were so serious about the training. That’s the technology area so they got all the technology. But he had all his little teams flying in, his personal trainer and a guy that got his food to make sure he was eating the right food. I think if you’re eating right and living like that you’re going to have an advantage over most guys any day.

pC: Going back to Hurricane football, the last few years the program has been down, why do you think it got like that, are we on the right track, do you think Randy is the right man?
MR: Great Question. Randy is the man.

pC: You think he can do it?
MR: In my heart I think he’s the guy because he reached out to a couple of former players and asked us stuff like how can he get more former players to be involved with the guys. He picked me, I was one out of five guys that he asked to go to that meeting to see how he can get things back on track. So I think he’s the guy being that he’s reaching out and trying to understand it. I think right now he’s still a young head coach and it’s tough trying to be the coordinator and the head coach. I know he has somebody with the title of defensive coordinator but you know who’s making those calls. I think that if he just simplified himself and just was the head coach, address the team, call timeouts, be the head coach and let your coordinators do their thing. Every once in a while be like 'hey run that blitz we did in practice,' but you need to get two good coordinators that are better than you are and you’re always going to look good. I think that’s what we’ve got to do. Butch Davis had a great staff, Coker had a great staff .

pC: Jimmy Johnson had the greatest staff
MR: And recruiting. Recruiting is so important. You’ve got to get your Florida guys and I think he believes in that. We were letting Louisville, West Virginia, Rutgers take all our players from down here and UM should be getting them man. I think we’re missing out on a few players like that. We should be in the top three recruiting classes every year. I think that’s one of the goals that we’ve got to set and then your seniors seeing that you've got good talent coming in this year they’ve got to be able to set the tone and groom these younger guys into something special. We’ve got to set our sights high we’ve got to know we’re going to a BCS bowl game this year. Without a doubt we’re going to a BCS bowl game and I think things are starting to turn around. They are start trusting him, I just hate that the season ended 9 and 4 instead of 10 and 3. 10 and 3 would have looked so much better.

pC: We were just manhandled against Wisconsin.
MR: They dominated every aspect of the game. We’ve got to get those big boys up front. Coach Shannon told me one time he’ll go anywhere for a defensive tackle , anywhere in the country, but everything else he’ll stay in Florida for. But we have to see that. Go get us a defensive tackle that’s going to help stop that run. My defensive line my senior year was so good we barely blitzed and until you get that, it’s hard to compete man. You’ve got to have that defense that’s going to set the tone. Defense wins championships.

pC: Why do you think the program went down the way it did?
MR: I just think recruiting took a hit. That whole Brock Berlin era. I love Brock, but that was just tough to swallow man because the whole look of the team really changed in that era and that was due to recruiting, due to the newness of the team and the new coaches, it takes time. See Miami fans want wins right now and that’s not going to happen. I heard it on the radio this morning. ‘Why do these guys keep switching coaches every two to three years?’ You’re not going to win like that and we went through so many coaches in the last few years we’ve got to get one guy and believe in him for at least five years and let him do what he can do. If you’re switching every two years you’re never going to have stability. It’s hard.

pC: Talk about Butch. Did he say I’m not going anywhere and then left for the Cleveland Browns?
MR: Yeah he said that and it bothered a lot of players, but it never really bothered me because I understood him. I just put myself in his shoes. I got kids and a family and somebody offered me 11 million dollars, I’m going to be gone too. I’m going to pack my bags up too. Now the way he did it? That wasn’t right. As a coach, you’ve got to have that leadership position and show yourself as a leader and he was saying with his words that he wasn’t going to go anywhere, but when it came down to it, those guys offered him that money and they offered him that job and his plans kind of changed but until the end he was being Butch Davis and being the leader of the team. What kind of coach is going to come in and say ‘oh I’m thinking about going to Cleveland.’ He can’t say that. That would have been worse. He was just playing the politics of it and he made a decision and went with it. I wasn’t mad at him but a lot of guys were pissed about that and I guess how it ties into the recruiting process and he left right before the recruiting process and it was in shambles because Pete Garcia wasn’t there. We took a hit because of that.

pC: The story goes that a bunch of seniors went to Paul Dee and told him to hire Larry Coker, because the rumors were that UM was looking at Barry Alvarez.
MR: Yeah. That didn’t sit good with us, that didn’t sit good in our mouth. We didn’t like the sound of him [Alvarez] coming in and we knew coach Coker and we felt like he could do it. So we vouched for him. I wasn’t the guy that went over there and talked to Paul Dee but we all pretty much said that’s how we felt. We didn’t want Alvarez we wanted Coach Coker somebody from our house.

pC: As far as let’s say corners, why do you think we haven’t developed some good corners since you left other than maybe Antrel Rolle who is now a safety? Brandon Harris looks good, but what do you see in their development or lack of, when you watch them play. Does something jump out at you?
MR: I think they just don’t have a lot of pride and they’re not taking full pride in what Miami football should be. Is that the coaches job to get them like that? I don’t know. I can honestly say that all that stuff reflects on the coaches. As far as how the secondary is playing and how the defense is playing that’s a true reflection on the coaches and the coaches understand that, so I just think maybe they need to be more tenacious, intimidating, how Wisconsin played is how we should have played, they looked how we should’ve looked, when they were hitting our quarterback late and giving those hard hits on the sidelines, that’s UM football and I was getting excited at how they were playing but UM wasn’t playing like that. When they’re quarterback is falling they were easy on him, they were helping guys up and all that crap. I’m like you’re in war time like Kellen Winslow said. After the game I’m you’re best friend but during the game… They’ve got to get that tenacity back. When we were on the field we felt like we were going to intimidate those guys and we were going to make those guys quit. That’s how we felt when we came out the smoke, but I don’t know if they feel like that. They feel like oh we’re just playing a game of football. There’s more to it than that I think. I don’t know, I like the staff but like I said you better have people under you that are going to make you look like a good head coach and as a coordinator you’ve got to have some good assistants too, but it takes a while to get that stuff going together, to get to know each other and stuff, but I think to get it back, the coaches have to set goals for themselves and look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘is this enough?’ ‘We’re not going to sit here and point fingers at these players, we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable and we’re not going to stop fighting until we win, we get to a BCS bowl game or win a National Championship. We’re not settling for a 9 and 4 [season] no more. They’ve got to take that attitude to the players and that attitude the players will pick it up because that’s what young guys want, they want that, but you’ve got to instill that in them.

pC: You mention running out of the smoke. You ran out of the smoke in the Orange Bowl. Now we’re playing at, this week it’s called Land Shark stadium. What do you think of that move?
MR: I get chills right now when I think about coming out of the smoke. Honestly. It’s just, money cant buy running out of the smoke. You can’t compare sex to running out of the smoke. [Laughter] I mean you never, it’s just a feeling you can’t imagine it’s like you’re on top of the world, you’re anticipating the game, you’re warming up and getting ready and you know you’re so psyched and it goes back to me seeing Tony Gaiter play and watching the guys in the tunnel, shake the tunnel, jumping around. I’m seeing Dan Morgan as a freshman and all these young guys and they’ve got their shirts folded up and it’s just the energy and when the smoke starts and you run through the smoke and there’s a point you can’t see and when you finally can see, there’s the band and 60,000 people screaming. There’s nothing like it man, nothing like it. I just went from feeling like I was a good player to a great player when I came out of that smoke. And the Orange Bowl in itself is history. I was sad they tore it down but I understand the politics and the economics of the game so I think Landshark is great but it’s nothing like coming out of that smoke. It’s unbelievable.

pC: Have you been to a game at Landshark?
MR: Yeah

pC: What do you think?
MR: I like it. Like I said, you gotta sell tickets. You gotta sell tickets.

pC: And that’s another thing you’ve got the fans in Miami that are fair-weather! When you’re not winning they’re not going!
MR: Yup and I went through that. I went through both. I went through when we didn’t have a lot of fans. I went through the point where I used to go to the clubs and say “I play for UM” and they’d say ‘the line is over there.’ And then when we were winning they’d say ‘Oh Mike come in!’ and I didn’t even say anything. So we went through all that. We saw the total transition even like the girls on campus. When we were losing I would say I played for the team and they would say ‘so what, my dad owns or works on Wall Street.’ But, once we started winning the tides kind of changed. Winning helps everything. When a team is winning it helps the whole economy. Look at the Heat when they won the championship, the economy changed. If the Dolphins would have gone to the Super Bowl you know how much money would have come into this city?!

pC: Did you watch “The U” Documentary and what did you think?
MR: I thought it was really great man. I thought it was really good, but in the end it kind of left me hanging because I expected it to be a little more and to go more into the best UM team of all time! The team people were saying could play against the Bengals and stuff like that, the undefeated Canes. That’s got to be part two man!

pC: They apparently do want to do a Part II.
MR: Really? They’re telling the story half way man because the UM that they told, most people don’t know that UM but the UM that we presented, most people know about that and they’ve got to show that side of it. But, I will say this, a lot of my friends that hate UM, they called me and said look I’ve got more respect for you all now.

pC: Really?
MR: Yeah, a lot of people respect UM more because they saw what we went through. They thought we were always just cocky and arrogant but we had earned that stuff. Russell Maryland and Melvin Bratton and them boys they set the foundation for us. It thought it was great.

pC: Word Associations, give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Randy Shannon: I knew that was the first one! Determined.
Larry Coker: Coker? Ah, he’s aight, motivation.
The Orange Bowl: Legendary
Sebastian the Ibis: Comedy [Laughter]
Butch Davis: Discipline
Coral Gables: Beautiful
Fiesta Bowl: History, history.
Ohio State: Hate is a strong word, but Hate. Hate. [Laughter]

pC: Favorite NFL team?
MR: Dolphins

pC: When you played professionally would you still follow the Dolphins
MR: Actually I would and we [49ers] played against the Dolphins but I was hurt so I actually never played against the Dolphins. But yeah, I always watched to see what was going on and I couldn’t wait to play them but it never came around and even when I was a free agent when I left the Redskins, I tried to come on with Cameron and thank God I didn’t because that would have been a terrible mistake, but he didn’t want me man. I live right here and I couldn’t even get a work out. He didn’t even give me a workout. I was kind of bitter because I’m a home town guy, a great story, I live around the corner and I’m a Dolphin fan and you won’t even give me a work out? It just really behooved me.

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
MR: Heat.

pC: Favorite Baseball team?
MR: Marlins. [Laughter]

pC: You’re a hometown guy! [Laughter]

pC: Favorite food?
MR: Lobster.

pC: At Red Lobster?
MR: Hell yea! [Laughter]

pC: What band or group would I most commonly find on your IPod other than Sade?
MR: Gucci Man [Laughter]

pC: Movie you can watch over and over?
MR: Rudy.

pC: TV show you got to DVR you can’t miss?
MR: Shit. NFL Network. I’m recording it right now! [Laughter]

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
MR: I go fishing, yeah I fish and read, ride bike. All that stuff.

pC: You have a family right?
MR: Yeah, my son’s 8, my daughter’s 3.

pC: Two website you got to check daily?
MR: and

pC: You work with young kids right now, what advice would you give him growing up and wanting to go to the NFL?
MR: Listen and work hard. That’s two of the best pieces of advice I can give a kid because by listening you learn a lot talk is cheap. If you could learn to pay attention to what people are telling you, especially when it’s good, it’s a great weapon. And hard work, I’m not saying that it will get you everywhere but if you work hard enough and you’re smart about things, they say preparation with opportunity equals luck. So if you’re prepared and you work hard and the opportunity comes around, you create your own luck. So I would just tell kids to listen and outwork people no matter what it is. Be persistent with it. I’m learning that now. See football and life are congruent, they run hand in hand and I try to get the kids to understand that in life sometimes you don’t get that second chance like you do in football and do the play over but it’s so, so similar. With my kids, they’re learning accountability at a young age, they’re learning discipline at a young age, they’re learning how to be on time at a young age, they’re understanding teamwork. If it’s just them they may not want to do it, but if they see 15 other kids that they admire and are their peers doing it the right way, they’re going to really push to do it the right way also. So, I think football prepares you for the game of life. Even for business, if I attack my business how I did football, I should be a billionaire by now! [Laughter] But I can honestly say I haven’t. With my business I probably gave 70% but with everything, you got to give 110% that’s why I can’t sit here and pout and moan about my business because I knew I wasn’t putting all my effort into it. And that’s the same thing with football and the same thing with life. Why complain if you know you’re not really giving the effort. So that’s how I look at it.

We at would like to thank Mike Rumph for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson and more!

Bookmark and Share

Tracking proCanes - Mike Rumph - Part I is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, San Francisco 49er, Washington Redskin and St. Louis Ram defensive back Mike Rumph. Rumph attended Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida. He was among the SuperPrep National Top 50 players and was a SuperPrep All-American. Rumph was a productive player during his career at the University of Miami which culminated with a National Championship in his senior year. Rumph compiled 117 tackles (117 solo), 2 forced fumbles and 6 interceptions (returning one for a touchdown) during his time at Miami. He was a second team Big East selection his sophomore and senior years and a first team selection his junior year. Rumph was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft, with the 27th overall selection. He was originally a cornerback, but the 49ers switched him to safety. He missed large parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injuries. On August 14, 2006, Rumph was traded to the Redskins for wide receiver Taylor Jacobs. On December 27, 2006 the Redskins waived him. Rumph was signed to the St. Louis Rams on March 20, 2007, but was released on August 3, 2007. He retired in July 2008.

Part I: Rumph talks about what he is up to since he retied from the NFL, his mentoring of current Hurricane DeMarcus Van Dyke, How he got recruited to play at Miami, and what his playing days at Miami were like.

proCanes: So I guess let’s first let fan know what you’ve been up to since you retired from the NFL.
Mike Rumph: I’ve been teaching football in kids’ camps and I was also running a private store but I just closed it.

When I first got out of the NFL one of the toughest things was the fear of what I was going to do next and I always wanted to do what I love, I always had dogs, I always loved dogs so I got a puppy store for my wife and I. I always loved training I was always amazed at how the body works and how everything moves on the body, the movement of the body, I was always amazed at that as a kid. I think that’s why I enjoy training kids so much because I understand being that I’ve been to the NFL and college, I understand my body more. It’s just so important to keep its shape for longevity. One thing people know about me is they know if I know it, you know it. I’m going to teach you what I know and just being around me I think the kids have an edge because they get to learn from my mistakes. Most people say they learn from their mistakes but the smart ones learn from other people’s mistakes. That’s what I try to do with the kids here. I Play Fast, that’s my company where I train my kids. I have my Mike Rumph camp that I do once or twice a year and my Le Chic puppies was my store for almost two years that I recently closed. We haven’t decided on relocating anything yet, I’m just going keep on with trying to do commentating and getting into coaching and continuing with my training.

pC: Would you like to get into official coaching maybe be graduate assistant at a college or do you like teaching younger kids better?
MR: I would love to work with college kids and be a college coach. I know it’s time consuming but anything is time consuming if you really want to do it. At night when I go to sleep I think about football, I’m thinking about plays, I’m thinking about defenses, I’m always watching the NFL on TV any kind of football I watch it. I think I’m a really good coach because I am able to explain and help kids relate to what I’m talking about so, I could be a great coach. In a perfect world I would be a high school head coach, but I would love to coach at a college level, or even the NFL.

pC: Right now what are the ages you coach?
MR: I coach ages eight up until pretty much college right now. Eight to like DeMarcus’ [Van Dyke] age who is 20. That’s kind of the age group that I’ve worked with.

pC: So I guess talk a little bit about how you came to start coaching DeMarcus?
MR: Because he wore the #8 I always watched him and because I wore #8 when he saw me, we always had some sort of conversation. I think when he came down in the spring I got a chance to talk to him a little bit and when they came to my Mike Rump camp in 2009 in Boyton Beach they had a bunch of the University of Miami players come out and my community opened their hands and the players really came and opened their hands and did a good thing for my community and I never forgot that and I told DeMarcus “if you want to work, you can always come to me to get some work done, I’m always up for that.” So, I think he kept that in mind and we stayed in touch talking and the part that impressed me the most about him was the day after the game in Orlando against Wisconsin he called me up and said as soon as he got back he wanted to work. That to me says a lot about his character. He’s not willing to take a break, he’s ready to get out there and get better so with that said I knew I could do something with him.

pC: What do you see in DeMarcus? Strengths? Weaknesses?
MR: I see a lot of me in him. He has to get that confidence and that comes with games DeMarcus hasn’t played as much as [Sam] Shields and the other corner Brandon [Harris] did. So I think he needs more reps and that will come now that he’s a senior. Those guys, Sheilds he’s a senior, and Brandon is an outstanding young player but I think that once DeMarcus gets some more reps he can turn out to be a really a top player in the ACC. What I see in him, he’s just like me. He’s a lanky guy, he can be physical, he’s a really fast and quick guy for his size. I see a great tackler. That’s a forgotten skill, the tackling, and he’s got really good ball skills. He can catch the ball really well. On the negative side, I think he just has to be confident when he gets out there and I think that comes with more reps like just playing the ball and running with the receiver. He has to get confident enough to turn around and find the ball. He could have had a couple more interceptions if he would have just done that alone, so he just has to get the confidence in himself and once you get that you might not be the best athlete but once you’re confident you understand what’s going on and it makes the game slow down a lot for you.

pC: At what age did you start playing? Were you always on defense?
MR: I started playing football at 8 years old and I was on offense. I played tightend and then I stopped football for a little while and I played baseball, basketball and I did a little track and I didn’t come back [to football] till I was 14. I kind of feel like sometimes that’s good for a young guy because playing every single year takes a toll on your body if you’re playing from eight until your 29 years old your body is going to be tired of football and I know guys who have actually done that, but I took a break so I played from 14 to 28. When I was 14 I was a real physical player. I would run it a lot and I was really competitive. I hated to lose. Where I’m from, if you don’t play football you’re nobody. So it was just something to do and what helped me excel at football was being a good listener and being a really hard worker. I had guys that wanted the skip practice and guys that didn’t want to go to school but I was the one that said look I’m going to go to school I’m not going to miss class and to this day I have guys come to me and say I should have gone to practice or I shouldn’t have skipped school so it made me feel good that I was able to make those decisions at a young age. The best thing I did I was able to surround myself with good people. I lost a lot of friends at a young age because I couldn’t’ walk the same path they walked at a young age so it helped me steer clear of it because I was always with somebody who could study, I was always with somebody who loved to practice, I was always with somebody who liked going to the movies on the weekends versus hanging out in the streets. So it helped me walk the clear path and I set goal at a young age also. I think those things helped me get through.

Another thing is I knew my counselor while I was in school. A lot of kids don’t know who their guidance counselor is so they don’t know where they need to get to and what goals they need to set to get there . If you notice I made DeMarcus write down his goals. That’s what he gave me in the paper. The first thing he gave me is his goals and that’s so important because you know the mind can be tricky. If you tell your mind you want to do something and everyday you see what you want to do, most likely that’s going to happen. So that’s why I had him set goals and I was setting goals while I was in high school because I knew where I wanted to get to and it paid off for me. Me getting into the NFL was easy, it wasn’t that hard. And I could tell kids all the time it’s not really that hard. You know, I was blessed and I’m a phenomenal athlete that’s from my dad and from my mom. I’ve got a strong heart that can’t be coached but I think that it wasn’t a hard route I just had to really stay my course and I was blessed to go to UM, [University of Miami] that God gave me the decision to go to the University of Miami when they just came off of probation so when I got there I aligned myself with some of the best athletes in the world and look at us now.

pC: So in high school were you defensive back and you were recruited as a DB?
MR: Yeah when I was in high school I played safety up until my junior year. My senior year I played safety and receiver and I was recruited as the best safety in Florida when I came out in 1998 and the second best free safety in the country next to Chris Holden. The day that I got to UM they were like let’s try you as a corner, and I was like okay and I stuck to corner ever since. I was always a safety man and I moved to corner and they liked it because I was big and I could move pretty quick so I stuck with it and I always liked corner personally because it was a challenge. Safety is where my heart was set and I knew I could be a great safety and even in the NFL they never let me reap my potential as a safety, but as a corner it was a great challenge for me and I feel I was on my way to becoming a great corner too.

pC: Who was the coach that recruited you from UM?
MR: Butch Davis.

pC: So it wasn’t the position coach back then, Pagano?
MR: Yeah Pagano, that’s good! You’ve got your history down! Chuck’s another guy man. I’ve just been surrounded with such good coaches. He used to bring us to his house. He used to live down here and he would bring us to his house and cook us BBQs just stuff for us to be together. Just the DB’s and that stuff you don’t get anymore man. That’s so important and people miss out on that because I think having that group camaraderie is so important. You’re always going to have one or two weirdos, but if you are always around each other hanging out, you know, I KNOW YOU, we know each other. If they don’t hang out, if guys just meet on the practice field, this guy might have a serious problem and we don’t know about it but if we’re hanging out, I know that he can’t have two drinks because he gets so lit up because we know each other. I think that’s what made it so good that we hung out together.

pC: What other schools were offering you scholarships?
MR: A lot of them! FSU and Ohio State were coming at me till the end but I had Michigan. Michigan wanted me as a receiver and corner. Louisville also, most of the east coast schools. The Florida Gators. They came in the beginning and kind of toned it down in the end.

pC: Who did it come down to in the end?
MR: In my head it was always Miami, but I wanted to go to my visits and I went up to visit Ohio State and they got this rumor that I was going to Ohio State. People were like ‘hey Mike heard you going to Ohio.’ At that point, I said no more visits. That’s it. It cut me short, but I wanted to be loyal to UM and I didn’t want that rumor to start getting out so I only visited Ohio State, which was a great visit. I told John Cooper that its too cold man, that’s too cold, I couldn’t do it.

pC: Who was your favorite team growing up?
MR: I’m a Palm Beach guy, but I was with the Dolphins.

pC: Favorite Player?
MR: Ronnie Lott when I was younger. When I got older, Deion [Sanders]. Yeah, I always liked Deion.

pC: Were you a Hurricane fan growing up?
MR: I was a Hurricane fan. When I was young I kind of liked Florida State but as I got older once the 90’s hit and I saw UM and it was something about how they came in the field. UM had swagger in the 90’s and it was just amazing to see an athletic guy with such confidence in himself just flying around the ball. You know the offense was wide open, deep balls and the defense was real tough and intimidating. They looked good in their uniforms and that captivated me because I looked at myself as a really tough player and that would be it. Tony Gaiter, he was a receiver for UM, and his cousin was my best friend so I met Tony a lot and I went to my first UM game because of him so my first few games I went to because of him and I was just mesmerized because that’s where I wanted to go.

pC: You came at a tough time to “The U” because it was right after probation and we weren’t very good in ’97.
MR: 1998 was my first year. 1997 was the last year we were on probation and we got all our scholarships back. That documentary “The U,’ that ended right where we started at that’s exactly where I started where that show ended. That’s’ when we said we had all our coaches back and we had 22 recruits that year.

pC: Was it tough coming knowing that things were down for a few years. Were people asking you ‘why are you going to Miami?’
MR: It was like that but I looked at it as an opportunity because to me they didn’t have a lot of safeties. Honestly Ed Reed when I first saw him in practice, I thought I’m taking his position, but by his sophomore year I don’t know if he made a deal with God or what and I’m not saying he was terrible, he was always good and he was always a ball hawk and knows the game real well and very good ball skills. He became that great player right after that Penn State game because Coach Schiano got on him hard after that. After that he just turned it on and I just came in because I thought that it was a great opportunity for me to play and get a degree. My plan when I came to UM was: I just want to get a degree and play special teams and that’s what my goals were. My first year, my first game I get in with East Carolina and I cause a fumble and after that, my freshman year, I played a lot. We only had four freshmen playing; the kicker, myself, Chris Campbell, and I think Sheven Marshall. So, everyone was sitting at home on the weekends when we was going on trips so I was like really, I set my goals lower than I should have and I was really shocked because I didn’t think I was going to play THAT much and I ended up playing a good amount of games. The only game I didn’t play my freshmen year was Syracuse when we lost 66 – 13. The worst loss I ever had in my life. I didn’t play special teams I didn’t play defense, thank god.

pC: What would you say is the toughest part about playing at UM?
MR: It’s hard man. I mean it was tough all around. I think the toughest part was probably the discipline, disciplining yourself, when you get to college. You don’t have mom and dad telling you what to do and you’ve got to get up on your own and you’ve got six o’clock runs and there come times in practice and you’re really sore and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next practice. I think it’s just overall the self discipline and to be able to say, I didn’t do this well in practice today so let me stay 30 more minutes to go over this again. I think that kind of stuff, that type of discipline, is what was tough to have at a young age. You just feel like at 18 years old that what the coach was asking you to do was good enough and that was it, but I was smart enough to know that was not enough I had to do more than that to be better than these guys. So the discipline to push yourself more than everybody else was that was what was hardest.

pC: You had an interesting career because you came when we were down and left when we were at the top. What would you say was your favorite memory? Was it reaching that pinnacle or was it the road to it because you were one of the guys that helped bring the program back, let’s face it.
MR: Definitely the road back, the road to the Championship was the best. Because you have to understand that you’ve got to get 105 guys on one goal and that’s to win. That’s so hard when you got so many guys coming from all over the country. We had guys from Canada on our team!

We’ve got five Canadians on our team and then we’ve got five guys from Liberty City where they getting along in order to win the game. That’s tough and I credit those coaches man because Butch Davis did a great job of changing it around. He’s a great recruiter he’s a great guy if you give him some talent, he’s a great disciplinarian. Butch Davis is that guy where uh, oh, here comes Davis, you know? Coach Coker was a great coach, great offensive coordinator, a great motivator, but he was like me and you were the same so it’d be like “hey Coach!” You’d get coach Coker like this (Rumph giving the motion of a nooggie). You could noogie coach Coker but coach Davis, you don’t even want to look him in the eye. You’d be like yes sir, no sir, but that was the difference we needed. Randy Shannon I think is really good. He is the same as Davis. He’s really good with the guys. You’ve got a bunch of knuckleheads, you need someone that’s a real disciplinarian and Coach Shannon, he’s that guy and he understands what a lot of guys feel and what they’re going through, so in that aspect he can relate.

I came when Davis was kind of shaky man but I can honestly say I saw it all come together. It started with recruiting. It started with the off season when we would play all together and how we pulled each other through and we’d fight amongst ourselves. If a guy is jumping off sides a lot, literally a guy would come over and whip his butt in practice, they’d get on him they’d [Nate] Webster him, and they’d choke him and they might hit him in the stomach and say you need to get that shit right. What are you going to do after that? Me as a freshman, I was like I’m never going to mess up because I don’t want that. [Laughter] That’s what we had and is what I think this younger team is going to have next year. You’ve got to have that senior leadership to show how things should be done. That goes from how to practice, how to prepare for the game, how to conduct yourself in Coconut Grove. All that has to be taught, but you’ve got a bunch of freshman that don’t understand that it’s going to be tough to win games. I think once you get that senior leadership that’s when we start losing less games, going to more bowls and hopefully win a championship again.

pC: You hear a lot that you need that camaraderie to win. I mean the 2000 team should have been playing for the National Championship and the 2001 team did, I mean how close were those teams? Was the ‘01 team one big happy family.
MR: The ‘02 team should have one too. We were’ one big happy family, but we had that knuckle head in the family. We had that one black sheep in the family, we had momma, we had daddy we had all that and when there was a problem we addressed it with each other and with the coaches and we handled it amongst ourselves I just cant explain it. I mean even when we hung out and we went out together and if something happened to one of us we always got involved and always stood up for our guys. Like I said, that hanging out together stuff makes you a lot better on the field because you know what you’re dealing with, you know the psychology of your buddy.

pC: What games from your UM days stand out?
MR: Every game against West Virginia stood out for me because I had my best games against Mark Bulger and I played against him when I was with the 49ers and I played with him when I was with the Rams. But, he threw me up all my interceptions and they [West Virginia] always had a lot of talent because they recruit down here a lot and that was some of my best games. Penn State because it was my sophomore year and it was a hard loss to swallow for me because I got beat for the winning touchdown and we could have beat one of the best teams in the country but I grew a lot that night because I had to really understand that it happens to the best of us. I got to talk to a guy that works with Deion a lot and said ‘Deion even gets beat’ and that really touched me. I was like you know he’s right he does get beat. Everybody gets beat sometimes but I grew strides that night because I remember that next day I came back with a vengeance because I didn’t want that to happen again. And that’s when I became the player that I am today, after that game I mean that game changed me.

pC: What would you say was the toughest place to play because the people that I’ve always talked to have said West Virginia.
MR: Definitely. It’s just real hostile. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It reminds you of Deliverance. When you pull up on a that little hill you could hear that banjo playing in the background [Laughter] and with the old story that Coach Shannon had a little incident with that trash can. We had to keep our helmet on that whole game and it was just idiotic stuff. The old ladies are shooting middle fingers. It’s just a whole other atmosphere, but they really support their program up there and they always have some tremendous athletes and that’s what makes West Virginia a tough team and they take special teams as serious as we did back then. I say that because UM, that’s another thing we were so serious about, special teams. When I played that’s how we won a lot. We were going to have a blocked kick we were going to have a kick return we were going to have something, but Butch Davis really believed in special teams and to this day that’s how I am too and Joe Gibbs is like that also. West Virginia, they brought their special teams to play. We knew it was a big game. It was always a big rivalry but we knew it was tough to play those guys because of all those things.

pC: So Florida State wasn’t as bad or even Syracuse because it was loud?
MR: Syracuse is the loudest because of the dome. My freshman year they put microphones in the crowd to really amplify that noise when we lost 66-13, it was the loudest I’ve heard. Virginia Tech got loud my senior year when they blocked that punt the game before the rose bowl. They blocked that punt that last game of the season, my ears about to burst when they blocked that punt so it got really loud and it could be hostile too. Even Boston College, they have the stands right over you and they got the guys standing right on top of us. I got some funny stories out from Boston but the most hostile West Virginia, the loudest Syracuse. I mean Florida State is Florida State you just got to get used to all that chop music. The week before we played them they’re playing it on the loudspeaker all week until you just hate it you and about to go crazy.

pC: You went up everyday in practice against all-pro NFL receiver like Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss. Who was the toughest receiver you had to go up against in practice?
MR: Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss were really tough receivers to guard in practice. But they both had their negatives and positives. Andre Johnson goes under that category too. Andre was just a younger guy but Andre, his size alone was really tough to deal with because he was just as fast as Reggie and Santana but bigger than them. But Reggie Wayne was always a great route runner has great hands and he’s a really good blocker and people don’t understand how important that is. Santana was outrageously quick, outrageously fast, good hands, he had to learn to run his routes right. Santana was so fast that they told him to slow down to run his routes. They told him you’re too fast, it’s not going to work when you’re going that fast so he had to learn to run the routes a little slower and that’s when he became a good receiver. But Andre overall, blocking, being a big body to get around to get to the ball. It was a little tougher so I had to really change up my play with him but it was really good because you get Santana real quick and then you get the big guy. Practice was really competitive and really what made us good. Games were easy. When we went against Washington, when we went against Reggie Williams that was a cake-walk, this guy was not better than Reggie Wayne so we held him to no catches.

pC: So you would say Andre Johnson was the toughest?
MR: Yeah. And I thank those guys till this day because they made me the player that I am . When those scouts came to watch those guys that’s how I got noticed because I was doing a good job of guarding them.

pC: Who would you way was the best player on the team?
MR: I would go with Ed Reed because between him and Dorsey I would say they’re two of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. He just knows the game and sometimes he’s in the place where you don’t know what he’s doing in that place but he’s there and he makes the play. That’s the kind of thing that made me say he’s the best player and he did that on a consistent basis. It wasn’t just like once in a blue moon, he was consistently making plays and that’s what made him so good. Overall on the team there were a lot of guys just as good as Ed but if I had to pick one I would pick him.

pC: How was he personally?
MR: When we was younger he liked to go out and like to hang out and we just did some silly shit and we hung together a lot and did a lot of crazy stuff, but he kind of changed his life and slowed it down. I think him being under the Ray Lewis’ mentor and going to Baltimore, which was such a veteran team that honed him to even a better player. It wasn’t just a team about partying and acting crazy, it was about winning and he was like that too and I think that made him even more like that. He slowed down a lot man, he’s a man of God and he doesn’t hang out as much and you don’t see him in the news and I think that says a lot about him.

pC: Who would you say was your best friend?
MR: Howard Clark, linebacker from New Jersey, my roommate. Brent Scott he was a walk on. Phillip Buchanan, me and him were roommates for every home and away game. James Lewis. Marquis Fitzgerald. Everyone who was in the secondary.

pC: Do you keep in contact with guys?
I bump into Marquis sometimes. Phillip Buchanon on Facebook. James Lewis, I haven’t talked to him in years. Howard I talk to him like every 8 months or so. I talked to Willie Joseph today. He lives by me.

pC: How about Mo Sikes?
MR: Yeah he’s a police officer. His daughter goes to school with my son. I see him everyday. Delvin Brown. You know he’s a police on South Beach.

Click here to read Part II of our exclusive interview with Mike Rumph and read what he has to say about Coach Davis and Coke, the NFL, Terrell Owens and much more!

Click here to order Mike Rumph’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share