Ray Lewis

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Miami Hurricanes to honor Irvin, Lewis, Reed, Sapp and Taylor in Ring of Honor

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When the Miami Hurricanes host Georgia Tech for a critical ACC Coastal Division showdown in October, the program will pay tribute to a handful of great players from the program’s history. Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Warren Sapp, and the late Sean Taylor will all be added to the school’s Ring of Honor in Hard Rock Stadium.

That is quite a collection of program legends to honor on the same night, but it is also a group very much deserving of the honor from the program. With Miami hosting the Yellow Jackets for a primetime Thursday night game, expect Miami to be able to showcase the history of the program on as grand a stage as possible. The game is scheduled for an 8 pm kickoff on ESPN.

Irvin holds the Miami record for most career touchdown receptions (26) and he was a part of Miami’s national championship team in 1988. The brash wide receiver went on to have a Pro Football Hall of fame career with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was coached for a time by former Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson and won three Super Bowls.

Lewis was an all-Big East player for the Hurricanes in 1994 and 1995 and went on to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy career as the cornerstone of the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 through 2012 with a pair of Super Bowl victories and one Super Bowl MVP award. Reed was a teammate of Lewis from 2002 through 2012 with the Ravens, where he also put together a hall of fame-caliber career. Reed was a two-time consensus All-American in 2000 and 2001 and a BCS national champion with the Hurricanes in 2001. Like Lewis, it will just be a matter of time before heading to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sapp is already in Canton, and he had quite the career at Miami before heading to the NFL. Sapp became the first Miami player to win the Lombardi Trophy and was the unanimous Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 1994, when Miami played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl with an outside shot at claiming a national championship (Nebraska and Penn State each went undefeated and finished 1-2 that season; Miami was No. 3 going into the Orange Bowl against the Huskers).

Taylor looked like he would be another hall of fame player before his untimely death in 2007. At Miami, Taylor led the nation in interceptions in 2003 and set the Miami record for pick-sixes with three in the 2003 season. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a result and remains the program’s fifth-all-time interceptions leader. He was a part of Miami’s 2001 national championship team.

Miami will also be wearing their brand new alternate black uniform for the game.

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU