Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jacory Harris Named Florida's Mr. Football

Congratulations to Miami Northwestern High School quarterback Jacory Harris for being named Florida's Mr. Football award. Harris is the first player from Miami-Dade or Broward counties to receive this honor, which goes to the state's player of the year.

The 6'4, 170 pound Harris led the Bulls to a perfect 15-0 record, while passing for 3,445 yards, 49 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. During his high school career, Harris started 30 games and never lost. An honors student, Harris graduated early from Northwestern and will begin classes at the University of Miami on Monday. He is expected to compete with Robert Marve for UM's starting quarterback job this spring. Coincidently, Marve was last year's Mr. Football after starring at Tampa's Plant High School.

Past Mr. Football Winners

1992 Jammi German Fort Myers
1993 Shevin Wiggins Bradenton Manatee
1994 Daunte Culpepper Ocala Vanguard
1995 Frankie Franklin Jacksonville Sandalwood
1996 Travis Henry Frostproof
1997 Zain Gilmore Tampa Robinson
1998 Anquan Boldin Pahokee
1999 Willie Green Kissimmee Osceola
2000 Adrian McPherson Bradenton Southeast
2001 Leon Washington Jacksonville Jackson
2002 Andre Reese Pierson Taylor County
2003 Xavier Lee Daytona Beach Seabreeze
2004 Antone Smith Pahokee
2005 Tim Tebow Ponte Vedra Nease
2006 Robert Marve Tampa Plant
2007 Jacory Harris Miami Northwestern

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

RIP Jim Dooley (1930-2008)

Jim Dooley, one of Miami's greatest football legends and sports pioneers , passed away yesterday after battling Lou Gehrig's disease for the last few years. Dooley was the first consensus All American in University of Miami football history in 1951. He also became the first UM player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and the first UM player to have his jersey number retired. In 1997, Dooley was inducted into UM's Ring of Honor at the Orange Bowl.

Born James William Dooley in Stoutsville, Missouri, he moved to Miami as a boy and later became one of the city's great schoolboy athletes while attending Miami Senior High School. As a senior at Miami High in 1947, Dooley led the Stingarees to a 9-1 record and the state championship while playing halfback on both offense and defense. He was named All City and All State, while playing for head coach George Trogdon. At the time, Miami High was one of the nation's top high school programs and scheduled teams from 5 different states during Dooley's senior year.

He chose to stay home and play his college football at the University of Miami and then head coach Andy Gustafson. During his junior year in 1950, Dooley led the Canes to an upset victory over then #1 ranked Purdue at West Lafayette, Indiana. The victory sparked a huge celebration in Miami which saw thousands of fans greet the team upon their arrival at the Miami International Airport. The Canes went on to play Clemson in the 1951 Orange Bowl Classic, losing 15-14 after Miami's Frank Smith was tackled in the end zone for a safety late in the 4th quarter.

Dooley was a true 60-minute player and played both offense and defense as a junior and senior. He was the first UM player to rush for over 1,000 yards in his career and set a UM bowl record with 4 interceptions vs. Clemson in the 1952 Gator Bowl. In 1951, Dooley intercepted 10 passes--a school record that has since been tied by Bennie Blades and the late Sean Taylor.

He was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears in the 1952 NFL Draft and played 10 seasons from 1952-1961. As a rookie he played defense, intercepting 5 passes. But in 1953, he became more of an offensive specialist, playing wide receiver. He finished his pro career with 211 career catches for 3,172 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 1968, Dooley succeeded George Halas as Bears head coach and compiled a 20-36 record from 1968-71. He spent the next 30 years working in the Bears organization as assistant coach and a team executive.

Jim Dooley is survived by his wife, daughter, four sons and 16 grandchildren. He was 77 years old.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Don Shula

Happy 78th birthday to former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula. Shula retired as the Dolphins head coach after the 1995 season with more career victories (347) than any other coach in NFL history. He earned the respect of nearly everyone connected with professional football.

After an NFL playing career that was built more on dedication and hard work than athletic ability, Shula became a very young head coach in 1963 with the Baltimore Colts. From 1963-69, he compiled a 73-26-4 record and guided the Colts to Super Bowl III. However, the Colts suffered a devasting to loss to the New York Jets at the Orange Bowl. When the Dolphins offered him its head coaching job in 1970, he took it.

Shula immediately amplified his standing in the coaching community. In 1972, he coached the Dolphins to the only perfect season (17-0) in NFL history, including a victory in Super Bowl VII. He won Super Bowl VIII too. Before he retired, Shula took six teams to the Super Bowl.

Throughout his career, Shula adapted to his personnel. With Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris in the early 1970s, the Dolphins won mainly with a powerful rushing attack. With Dan Marino in the 1980s and 1990s, the Dolphins opened up the passing game.

"The secret of success is getting inside different personalities and getting the most out of them." Shula said.