Former Miami Hurricanes football star leaves NFL to join UM athletic department
Another ex-Miami Hurricane is coming home.
The Miami Hurricanes are appointing legendary UM defensive end, 1987 first-round NFL draft pick and longtime NFL scouting manager Alonzo Highsmith as their newly created general manager of football operations, a source told the Miami Herald.
Highsmith, 57, a respected talent assessor, will work with Miami native and coach Mario Cristobal and new athletic director Dan Radakovich in a scouting-intensive role, overseeing all recruiting operations and building a department aimed at attracting top talent. He will be in Miami to start his new job on Monday.
The Sun-Sentinel first reported the Highsmith news.
Highsmith most recently served as senior executive advisor to Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider. He helped lead the Hurricanes to their first national title in 1983 under Howard Schnellenberger. Four decades later, the University of Miami believes he can do the same — but this time in a different capacity.
Highsmith has signed a multi-year deal, the source told the Herald.
The hope is that Highsmith, who served as the vice president of human resources for the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and 19 as well as 19 seasons in human resources at the Green Bay Packers, will help Cristobal and his highly respected football staff continue to liven up the shine of the five-fold program national champion football, which has slipped into mediocrity since its last title in 2001.
Highsmith was formerly a candidate for the AD job that went to Radakovich. Following former football coach Manny Diaz's first season in 2019, he was nearly hired in a senior role as UM Football Administrator/General Manager. But in the end, it was the members of the Miami Board of Trustees who wanted him more than the former staff, Highsmith previously indicated, as Diaz probably didn't want anyone looking over his shoulder with day-to-day problems.
Highsmith, who met his wife Denise at UM and has three sons and two daughters, knows the South Florida community intimately and has been immersed in Miami football since his playing days from 1983-1986. He was drafted third overall by the Houston Oilers in 1987 and had a six-year NFL career with the Oilers, Dallas Cowboys, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Respected by other former players and current NFL employees for his talent assessment and general football knowledge, Highsmith was involved in the UM program as an alum and is obviously considered a UM football insider.
At UM, where Highsmith is in the Sports Hall of Fame, he finished his career with 1,914 yards. He also had 2,935 all-purpose yards, then the fifth-most for a Hurricane, and had 25 touchdowns. His four touchdowns against Notre Dame in 1984 still ties with four others for third-best finish for a single game.
Highsmith is a graduate of Miami Columbus High, where he was a defensive end All-American before becoming a fullback for the Canes — and where Cristobal also played and went to high school. The Columbus connection includes new Miami offensive line coach Alex Mirabal and key UM donors including brothers Jose and Jorge Mas, owners of Mas Tec, a $6.6 billion infrastructure company.
Highsmith's son A.J. served as a safety and quarterback for UM from 2009-2013 and is now a college scout for the Buffalo Bills.
American football player and vice president of player personnel for the Cleveland Browns
American college football player, professional football player, college football coach, offensive lineman
American football player and coach, college track and field administrator
American college football player, college football coach, professional football coach (1934-2021)
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