With no shortage of NFL players overall, the University of Miami has been historically strong in several areas of their program. Most notably, their pass-catchers have been among the best. From the 1980s through the 2000s “The U” has given football many elite wide receivers on both the college and professional levels. Several great ones will be left off this list however, as the top five Hurricane receivers are profiled.
5. Lamar Thomas (1989-1992)
Born: Ocala, Florida
Weight: 200 lbs
Thomas may have achieved his success in the NFL playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-95) and Miami Dolphins (1996-00) but his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries. Thomas would spend his last two seasons on injured reserve and have his best season as a pro, catching 43 receptions for 603 yards and five scores.
With the Hurricanes, Thomas would leave as the all-time leader in receiving yards before having the record broken years later. He was a member of Miami teams penalized for past NCAA infractions but was a lone bright spot in an unforgettable time for the program.
It wasn’t always pretty, though, as Thomas is also known for being the victim of “The Strip” game. It was a 1993 Sugar Bowl route by way of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
4. Santana Moss (1997-2000)
Born: Miami, Florida
Weight: 195 lbs
Moss is a classic “little guy, big heart” player. Moss played for four seasons at Miami and improved every year until a crowded receiving corp appeared on campus in the 2000 season. He amassed 2,547 receiving yards on 143 catches and scored 19 touchdowns. He was the glowing light on an otherwise middling late ’90s Miami program. He regressed a tad in the 2000 season to 748 yards and five touchdowns (down from 899 yards and six scores in 1999), however, he would be awarded Big East Offensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American despite it. His draft stock would not take a hit in the coming spring, either.
Moss was taken by the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 16th pick. He would play four seasons with Gang Green before spending the majority of his career with the Washington Redskins (2005-14). In his career, he caught 732 balls for 10,283 yards and scored 61 touchdowns. He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl representative in 2005.
As he did in college, he also made a mark as a punt returner gaining 1,398 yards and scoring three times.
3. Andre Johnson (2000-02)
Born: Miami, Florida
Weight: 230 lbs
For years Johnson was the glimmer of hope that the Houston Texans might have a chance of contending for the playoffs. A few playoff appearances would arrive, but overall those Texan teams never succeeded with Johnson and he was cut loose by the team after the 2014 season. The wideout would still cultivate a Hall of Fame career however, catching 1,062 passes for 14,185 yards averaging out to 13.4 yards per play. Johnson found the end zone 70 times during his time in Houston (2003-14), the Indianapolis Colts (2015), and the Tennessee Titans (2016). He was drafted in the first round by Houston with the third overall pick in 2003.
Johnson’s glory days arguably could be pointed to in Miami, as he succeeded both individually and as a member of the Hurricanes. Playing three seasons from 2000-02, he was a 2001 National Champion and appeared in two title games during that time. Despite little production in the 2000 season, he still registered 1,831 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns for his career while having to share the production with some not-so-slouch teammates.
Johnson’s physical gifts and time at Miami allowed him more individual success in the NFL, but his team success was in South Florida.
2. Michael Irvin (1985-87)
Born: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Weight: 210 lbs
Irvin helped lay the foundation at Miami, starting there for three seasons and capping off his final campaign with a 1987 National Championship. In each season, he would catch no fewer than 40 passes, receive no fewer than 700 yards and scored no fewer than six touchdowns. It was just the beginning for “The Playmaker,” as he was chosen in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Irvin would be a member of the famed Triplets, helping guide the Cowboys to their three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s. From 1991-95 Irvin was a Pro Bowler and was a first-team All-Pro once (1991) and second-team All-Pro twice (1992, 1993). In his career he caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 60 touchdowns. His career was cut short due to injuries, but his bust still resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his 11 seasons of work.
Irvin is also known for off-field the trouble, including a history of cocaine use.
1. Reggie Wayne (1997-2000)
Born: New Orleans, Louisiana
Weight: 200 lbs
Wayne was an absolute workhorse during his entire football career. He arrived on campus in 1997 and immediately made an impact during his career as a four-year starter. He is just one of five players in school history to score 20 or more touchdowns in their career, and he never received fewer than 450 yards in a season. In fact, Wayne gained 630 or more yards three times in his time with the Hurricanes. In 43 career games, he totaled 2,510 yards on 173 receptions averaging 14.3 yards a play.
Wayne would carry that production to the NFL, where he was chosen by the Indianapolis Colts with the 30th pick in the first round in 2001. He would play his entire career in Indy (2001-14) where he was a six-time Pro Bowler (2006-10, 2012) and first-team All-Pro in 2010 and second-team All-Pro in 2007 and 2009. He would become a Super Bowl Champion in 2006 with a victory over the Chicago Bears.
In all, Wayne is a no-doubt future Hall of Famer with 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns. He is tenth all-time in NFL receptions and receiving yards.