Miami football top 10 scariest defensive players of all time

Miami football
Miami football /
1 of 10

Although the Miami football program was often credited with innovative offenses leading the way to their dominance in the 1980s, early 1990s and early 2000s to five national championships, it was the dominant defenses that were the foundation for titles. These 10 Miami players were scary good defensively.

10th scariest Miami football defensive player: Jonathan Vilma

Vilma and D.J. Williams teamed to give Miami a deadly tandem at linebacker in the early 2000s. Teams wouldn’t dare go across the middle when it was patrolled by Vilma and Williams. Vilma ran a 4.54 40 at 6’1″ and 230 pounds. Opposing ball carriers would be punished by Vilma, who covered the field sideline to sideline.

Vilma began his Miami career as a reserve backing up Dan Morgan in 2000 with 38 tackles. As the starting middle linebacker on the 2001 National Championship team, Vilma had 79 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery that he returned 36 yards for a TD, three passes defended and an interception.

Vilma dominated Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl to help secure Miami’s fifth national championship. Nebraska couldn’t block Vilma, as he had nine tackles, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one sack. Vilma had a legendary crushing tackle on Nebraska tight end Ben Zajicek on a reverse at the end of the game.

Vilma improved throughout his Miami career. As a junior in 2002, Vilma had 133 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (including one returned for a TD) and five pass breakups. Vilma had 127 tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries as a senior in 2003.