Troy State players recognize Miami ‘mystique’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 4, 2001

Sports Editor

They’re all juniors at Troy State University and they all remember Miami.

Not the No. 1 Hurricanes’ team that they will face in the Orange Bowl on Saturday afternoon, but the Miami teams of the 1980s and early 90s; the ones that talked the talk and walked the walk and collected national titles like many people trade in automobiles.

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The Hurricanes were a dynasty back then, winning national championships in ’83, ’87, ’89 and ’91.

Trojans wide receiver Heyward Skipper, who grew up in Baxley, Ga.,


"I used to love Miami," he said. "Everybody wanted to go to Miami."

Linebacker Naazir Yamini, also a Georgia native, was the same way.

"When I was little, I was a Miami fan, definitely," Yamini said. "I had the Miami coat, hat, everything. I’ve got to put that on the back burner now."

Defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora grew up around a big time college football program, playing at Auburn High School, but as a youngster the 6-3, 267 pound junior admits he idolized the Hurricane players and their style of play.

"Watching Miami was something I looked forward to," he said. "Of course, I never thought I’d get a chance to play against them."

NCAA probation took its toll on the Miami program in the mid-90s, but following last year’s 11-1 record and three straight wins into the 2001 season, the Hurricanes are now ranked No. 1 in the nation and looking for their fifth overall national championship.

And now Miami appears to be on the cusp of a new decade of dominance. There’s speed to spare on defense, a stable of bullish running backs, wide receivers who can make plays and a gunslinger in Ken Dorsey who reminds everyone why Miami is nicknamed "Quarterback U".

So how can the Trojans hope to counter that?

TSU has already faced No. 4 Nebraska, falling to the ‘Huskers 42-14 in the first game of the season.

Umenyiora thinks his team will match-up better with the Hurricanes.

"Athletically, we’ve got team-speed and so do they," he said. "It looks like they may have a little more then we do, but I feel we can match-up with them on defense as far as I’m concerned."

Yamini thinks the Hurricanes are more dangerous then Nebraska.

"They look every bit as powerful on film," he said. "The key thing is that they’re faster then Nebraska. The fact that they run and pass the ball equally well is the most dangerous thing."

Skipper, who is having a career season at wide receiver for the Trojans, is just looking forward to stepping onto the field against one of the best teams in the country.

"I want to play them," he said. "This is going to be a big game for me. They’re a good team and they’ve got a good secondary. It’s a chance to prove what I can do."