Miami football legend Edgerrin James set to become first Hurricanes RB in Pro FB HOF

Feb 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

It is probably fitting that Miami football legend Edgerrin James will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend with former Indianapolis Colts teammate Peyton Manning. James will become the first Hurricanes running back and ninth alum overall to be indicated into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

James who is part of the 2021 HoF Class will be part of dual enshrinement with the 2020 Class to be inducted in Canton this weekend. Legendary Miami football coach Jimmy Johnson is part of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class. Johnson is being inducted this weekend because the 2020 ceremonies were canceled due to COVID.

James was first-team All-Pro in 1999 and earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award that season. James was named first-team All 2000s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Reference and was named to four Pro Bowls during a 10-year career. James is ninth in career rushing attempts and 13th in rushing yards.

James also had an impressive five seasons in the top 10 in rushing yards per game and is 12th all-time with an average of 82.7 YPG. James was a versatile player who was also adept as a receiver and blocker. The Miami Sports Hall of Famer finished his NFL career with 15,610 yards to rank 16th all-time. ESPN profiled James.

"Edgerrin James, running back (Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005; Arizona Cardinals, 2006-08; Seattle Seahawks, 2009)He was the league’s offensive rookie of the year in 1999 and won the league’s rushing title his first two seasons — with 1,553 yards in 1999 and 1,709 in 2000. James had four 1,500-yard rushing seasons, five 50-reception seasons and finished with more than 15,000 yards from scrimmage.Why he was elected: James was a versatile, do-it-all player whom former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said was a big part of Indianapolis’ run as one of the league’s most dominant offenses. James ran with quickness, power and vision and was also a matchup problem for defenses in the passing game.And he consistently did the roll-up-your-sleeves things, such as blitz pickups, without complaint.Signature moment: He had many for a team that was consistently in the playoff conversation, but a moment several of his teammates (Manning included) have pointed out came in 2004 when the Colts faced Brett Favre’s Packers in what was expected to be an offensive showcase.The Colts, because the Packers were intent on blitzing Manning, elected to throw on the first 22 plays, and James was used as a blocker. Manning went 17-of-22 for 247 yards and three touchdowns in those 22 plays, and James didn’t get a carry until the second quarter.But it showed the unselfishness and work ethic of a gifted player who performed well in all facets of the game.He said it: “I’ve said [James] is probably the best teammate I ever had. Because of his talent, the most talented running back and one of the most talented players I’ve ever spent any time with, and he was so unselfish. He just did everything that needed to be done.” — Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning"

James also finished his NFL career an impressive 10th averaging 5.3 yards per touch. Unfortunately for James, he left an elite Indianapolis offense following the 2005 season as a free agent to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.

Prior to his NFL career, James became a legend on the Miami football team. During en era head coach Butch Davis was rebuilding the Hurricanes coming off probation, James carried the Miami offense. From 1996-1998, James had 2,960 rushing yards, 32 touchdowns and 42 receptions for 595 yards and three TDs.

James set the Miami rushing record with 299 yards and three TDs in a 1998 49-45 stunning upset of number three UCLA. The Miami win knocked the Bruins out of the Bowl Championship Series title game and ironically helped Florida State secure a berth. Florida State would lose to Tennessee for the National Championship.

James is fifth all-time in Miami football history in rushing attempts, third in rushing yards and second in rushing TDs. James’ performance against UCLA in 1998 broke his own single-game rushing record of 271 yards set in 1997 against Boston College. James set a single-season Miami record of 17 rushing TDs in 1998.

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Willis McGahee obliterated the 1998 mark set by James with 28 rushing TDs in 2002. McGahee was the backup to Clinton Portis before becoming the starter in 2002. That was the only season McGahee was the first-team Miami RB. James is arguably the best RB in Miami history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1997 and 1998.