8. Bennie Blades, S, 1985-87
Blades was the first Miami Hurricanes defensive player to earn a major national award in 1987. Blades won the first Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country. Jimmy Johnson once said that Blades “hit harder than any linebacker I’ve ever seen,” and Blades was particularly scary because he could impact the game everywhere.
Opposing defensive coordinators would have to account for Blades in coverage and against the run. Blades also held records for consecutive games with an interception with five, total tackles by a safety (286), unassisted tackles by a safety (155) and shares the single-season Miami interception record of 10 with Sean Taylor.
Blades was one of the original players that brought Johnson’s swag to the U. An adept trash-talker, Blades is often remembered for intimidating and taunting opposing players. At 6’0″ and 221 pounds, Blades was big for a safety during his era. He was the third overall pick of the 1988 draft by the Detroit Lions.
Blades played ten seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks. A two-time first-team All-American, Blades was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and the University of Miami Football Ring of Honor in 2009. With his brother Brian, Blades established a family legacy at Miami.