Miami Hurricanes Alum Willis McGahee 6th best RB Prospect Since 2001


Former Miami Hurricanes running back Willis McGahee and his Miami teammate Andre Johnson were each named among the top ten prospects at their position in the NFL since 2001.

The early 2000s Miami Hurricanes are often regarded as the greatest collection of talent in the history of college football. Over two dozen players went on to successful NFL careers.

McGahee was a backup on the incredible Miami Hurricanes National Championship team in 2001. That team had the greatest stable of running backs in the history of college football. Their top three running backs went on to several Pro Bowls and multiple 1,000 yards seasons in the NFL.

McGahee and future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore backed up star running back Clinton Portis. All three would go on to Pro Bowl NFL careers and multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

When Portis left for the NFL and with Gore out for the season with an injury, McGahee became the star of the 2002 Miami team that was robbed of a National Championship. McGahee led the 2002 Hurricanes in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, touchdowns touches and was third in receptions.

McGahee finished the year with a school-record 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns. Both of those records still stand. He also had a single game school record six touchdowns in a wild 56-45 win over Virginia Tech.

Like he did with Johnson. NFL.Com’s Bucky Brooks a former NFL player and scout shared his notes about McGahee when he came out for the draft.

"6. Willis McGahee, MiamiDrafted: 23rd overall, 2003, Buffalo Bills“Whenever a top-rated running back prospect puts up big numbers as a one-year wonder, scouts question whether he can replicate the feat at the next level. Those concerns for McGahee were heightened since he was coming off a devastating knee injury (torn ACL, PCL, and MCL) suffered in the 2003 National Championship Game.The unfortunate injury overshadowed McGahee’s electric skills as a power runner with shifty hips and light feet prior to the draft, but astute scouts couldn’t ignore his 1,753 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns as the RB1 for the Hurricanes during his final season.As a downhill runner with a crafty running style that blended power with a touch of finesse, McGahee’s ability to run effectively between the tackles made him a hot commodity for teams seeking an old-school runner to anchor their ground game. He exhibited those same qualities as a pro when he earned a pair of Pro Bowl berths and an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award (2004) while rushing for 8,474 yards and 65 touchdowns over his 11-year career.Whether it was leading the Buffalo Bills as a young workhorse or sparking the Baltimore Ravens to three straight playoff berths as a punishing lead back or carving out a 1,000-yard season as the Denver Broncos’ RB1, McGahee’s combination of grit, toughness and physicality made him worthy of his spot on this list.”"

McGahee went on to a very good if not great Hall of Fame career. Gore is the only Miami running back from the 2001 team likely to see his bust in Canton. Edgerrin James should be there someday as well.

McGahee sat out what would have been his rookie season after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Posterior Cruciate Ligament, and Medial Collateral Ligament in Miami Championship game robbery in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State in January 2003.

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  • He came back strong in 2004 after sitting out the entire 2003 season. McGahee had the first of four 1,000 yards seasons as a rookie. He ran for 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns in the 2004 season with the Buffalo Bills.

    He followed that up with 1,247 yards and five touchdowns in his second season. He spent three seasons with the Bills before being traded to Baltimore.

    McGahee missed four straight 1,000 yard seasons to begin his career by rushing for 990 yards during his final season with the Bills in 2006.

    His first season with the Ravens in 2007 he topped 1,000 yards by rushing for 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns.

    McGahee also added career highs with 43 receptions for 231 yards during the 2006 season. He would add a final 1,000-yard season with Portis’ former team the Denver Broncos with 1,199 yards in 2011.

    McGahee spent one more season in Denver and a final year in Cleveland before retiring after the 2013 season. He finished his career with 8,474 yards and 65 touchdowns and another 1,339 yards and five more touchdowns.

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    Mc Gahee finished his career 43rd all-time in rushing yards and 40th in rushing touchdowns. Both of those numbers rank fifth all-time in the NFL among running backs from the U. Ottis Anderson, Gore, James and Portis are all ahead of McGahee.