18 UM Football Players To Receive Diplomas

Eighteen University of Miami football student-athletes will be awarded their undergraduate diplomas Friday as part of Graduation Commencement ceremonies. Among the group of 18, six football players will be completing their eligibility for the Hurricanes in the 2003 season.

The football players receiving their diplomas on Friday who will compete for UM this season are: defensive tackle Larry Anderson (liberal arts), receiver Kevin Beard (liberal arts), offensive lineman Vernon Carey (liberal arts), long snapper Chris Harvey (history), running back Jarrett Payton (liberal arts), and safety Maurice Sikes (criminology).

Twelve other student-athletes completed their UM football careers in Fall 2002 and will receive their undergraduate or graduate degrees on Friday: linebacker Howard Clark (history), defensive back Jair Clarke (computer info. Systems), tight end Ennis Crafton (political science), offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli (finance & marketing), defensive tackle William Joseph (liberal arts), defensive end Jerome McDougle (liberal arts & criminology), receiver Jermaine Ponder (liberal arts & english), placekicker Todd Sievers (marketing), receiver Nate Smith (finance), defensive tackle Matt Walters (mechanical engineering), defensive end Andrew Williams (business management & operations), and offensive lineman Jim Wilson (biomedical engineering). Sikes and Wilson actually finished their undergraduate requirements in December, but will receive their degrees on Friday.

Additionally, quarterback Ken Dorsey (business management & operations) was another prominent member of the 2002 team who received his diploma in December and took part in graduation ceremonies at that time.

Five of those student-athletes (Dorsey, Joseph, McDougle, Walters and Williams) were recently selected in the NFL Draft and two others (Clark and Sievers) were free-agent signees.

The 18 football student-athletes are part of a total of 57 UM student-athletes who will receive their degrees on Friday. The 18 graduates continue Miami's tradition of achieving a high graduation rate among its football student-athletes. Miami has received recognition by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as one of an elite group of schools to exceed a 70 percent graduation rate among its football student-athletes in eight of the past 12 years. The Hurricanes' have exceeded the national graduation rate for AFCA member schools for 15 of the last 16 years.

>From 1992-97, Miami was one of only eight schools in the nation to graduate at least 70 percent of its football student-athletes and that trend continues to the present day. Sixteen of 22 Miami football student-athletes who entered UM in the fall of 1997 have graduated, a rate of 72.7. Since the AFCA began its national survey of graduation rages for football playing institutions, Miami has graduated 71.03 percent of its football student-athletes - far above the national average.

Ten members of Miami's 2002 team earned spots on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team - the most any team can qualify for the honor. The 2002 season marked the fifth straight year that Miami has placed the league maximum on the All-Academic Team. Among that group was a pair of first-team Academic All-Americans (Walters and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma) and a third-team Academic All-America selection (fullback Quadtrine Hill).

The 2003 Miami football team will include 19 student-athletes in their senior seasons of eligibility. Of that total, six will have graduated before the season kicks off and 12 will have earned their bachelor's degrees by the time the 2003 season concludes. The other seven are on track to graduate in May 2004.

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