July 08, 2012

Check Out My Canes: QB Edition - Erickson Caps off Decade of Excellence

1991 Pacific #519 (RC) and 1994 Collector's Choice #364

Craig Erickson was a highly ranked quarterback prospect coming out of Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Erickson was favoring joining the Florida Gators out of high school but Miami coach Jimmy Johnson managed to sway him in 1987 to join the Hurricanes.  During his freshman and sophomore years, Erickson was a backup to incumbent starter Steve Walsh.  In 1989, after the departure of Steve Walsh and the arrival of new head coach Dennis Erickson (no relation), Erickson stepped into the starting role at quarterback and added his name to the growing list of successful Miami quarterbacks.

1989:  The Erickson led Hurricanes started the season ranked #3 in the nation and were considered one of the teams in the national title hunt.  Erickson and the 'Canes started the season strong by reeling off 4 consecutive victories over Wisconsin, California, Missouri, and Michigan State.  However in the Michigan State victory, Erickson fractured the knuckle on the index finger of his throwing hand forcing him to miss the next 3 games of the season.  Gino Toretta filled in admirably for the injured Erickson winning 2 of the 3 games but failing to come away victorious against rival Florida State.  Erickson returned to duty after the Florida State loss and guided the Hurricanes to 5 straight victories to finish the season including a win over #1 Notre Dame in the final regular season game and a win over #7 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to vault Miami to another national championship, the third championship for the 'Canes in the 1980's.  Erickson finished the season with 2,007 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

1990:  Craig Erickson was a Heisman hopeful and the Hurricanes squad was heavily favored to repeat as national champions but that quest hit a roadblock in the first game of the season as the Hurricanes lost the first game of the season to Ty Detmer and the BYU Cougars.  Miami would then win their next four games to move back up to #2 in the rankings as they prepared to take on #6 Notre Dame.  Notre Dame handed the Hurricanes their second loss of the season and killed any chances of the Hurricanes to repeat as national champions.  Erickson and the Hurricanes would rebound by winning the final 6 games of the season, including a blowout victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl, to finish at #3 in polls behind Colorado and Georgia Tech.  Erickson would finish the season with 3,363 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions and he also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

NFL:  Erickson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 4th round of the 1992 NFL Draft.  He played for 4 teams in his short 5-year NFL career, started 35 games, and finished with 7,625 career passing yards, 41 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions.

Dirty dancing against California, a brawl against San Diego State, and a brash, unsportsmanlike, penalty filled blowout of Texas in the Cotton Bowl made the 1990 Miami Hurricanes one of the most hated teams in college football history.

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