43 Days to Miami football: Cleveland Gary versatile RB

1988:. Mandatory Credit: Allen Steele /Allsport
1988:. Mandatory Credit: Allen Steele /Allsport /

Running back Cleveland Gary was a versatile performer for the Miami football program from 1986-1988 after transferring from the University of Georgia.

Cleveland Gary was one of the original running backs who were equally adept at running the football or as a receiver with the Miami football program from 1986-1988. In three seasons Gary had 890 rushing yards and four touchdowns and 68 receptions for 794 receiving yards and another six TDs.1

Gary had an outstanding senior season in 1988 with 480 yards rushing and 57 receptions for 655 yards and six TDs. One of the most infamous plays in the history of the Miami football program involved a phantom fumble that Gary allegedly lost in a 31-30 in the racist catholic versus convicts game at Notre Dame.

The loss to the Fighting Irish was the only one Miami had in 1998 as the Hurricanes finished 11-1. Notre Dame would go on to an undefeated season finishing 12-0 with a victory over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Miami has won the 1989, 1991 and 2001 National Championships. Notre Dame does not have a title since 1988.

Gary won a title with Miami in 1987 when the Hurricanes won the 1988 Orange Bowl 20-14 over Barry Switzer and Oklahoma. After primarily serving as a backup during his first two seasons in Coral Gables, Gary shared the backfield with Leonard Conley and Shannon Crowell during the 1988 season.

Following his career at Miami,


was 26th pick overall in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Gary played five seasons with the Rams and finished his career back in Miami in 1994 with the Dolphins. In 1990 Gary led the NFL with 14 rushing TDs, ran for 808 yards and caught 30 passes for 150 yards.

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Gary finished his NFL career with 2,645 rushing yards and 24 rushing TDs and added 135 receptions for 874 receiving yards and five TD receptions. Cleveland Gary is the best player in Miami football history to wear number 43.