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Friday, December 13
Dorsey quietly makes Miami great

By Wayne Drehs

Getting Ken Dorsey to talk about his most memorable moment, a defining Heisman flashbulb of his senior year, is like getting the Miami quarterback to genuinely care about postseason awards like the Heisman -- it ain't gonna happen.

The mild-mannered, media-savvy signal caller whose been through the Heisman ringers before, is more inclined to give you some mumbo jumbo about each game being as important as the last.

Dorsey's Heisman ballot asked each of the Heisman finalists for their vote (excluding themselves). Here's Ken Dorsey's take.

1. Willis McGahee, RB, Miami
"That's my guy. He's added so much to our team this year that people don't even realize. He'd get my vote."

2. (tie) Carson Palmer, QB, USC
"Had a great year at quarterback playing a tough schedule with a lot of the pressure on his shoulders."

2. (tie) Larry Johnson, RB, Penn State
"A guy that you can't afford to overlook. He just got better and better as the season went on."

Yet talk to his teammates, the ones who look in his eyes in the huddle and they tell you something all together different. They speak of someone who struggled with criticism, whose confidence wavered and not until late in the season, fully reached his potential.

A turning point?

The second half against Pittsburgh, in which Dorsey erased thoughts of an erratic first half to complete nine of his 11 attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown. Included in that run was an opening half drive in which Dorsey was 3-for-3 for 58 yards, highlighted by a perfect 30-yard fade to Andre Johnson that helped Miami retake a 21-14 lead.

"I just remember looking up and watching him zing those passes out there and it was machine like," center Brett Romberg said. "We were all like, 'Damn, Kenny's playing well tonight.'"

In the first half, Dorsey was just 5-of-15 for 13 yards. But in the second half, Romberg said, he was more calm, poised and prepared for success. For Dorsey, it was somewhat out of character.

"Are you kidding? Hell no. He's usually freaking out back there," Romberg said. "So to see him stay in control against Pittsburgh after that first half was something special."

The success carried over to the following week, when Dorsey shredded the Syracuse defense for 345 yards on 16-of-25 attempts. Whether he'll admit it or not, the two performances helped put the often-criticized Miami quarterback back in the thick of the Heisman race.

"You can say that, but I'm not going to," Dorsey said. "As I see it, each game is as important as the next."

Romberg said the constant criticism of Dorsey, despite the fact that he's 38-1 as a starter and arguably the greatest quarterback to play for the Hurricanes, stung.

Add that to the fact that one of his teammates, running back Willis McGahee, was instantly everyone's favorite Hurricane, not to mention the chic pick for the Heisman and Dorsey couldn't figure out what he did to fall out of favor with everyone.

"Every week you'd hear that Miami played great, but Ken Dorsey struggled," Romberg said. "He was ridiculed for this, picked on for that. Whenever we didn't win by blowout, it was Kenny's fault. And I don't care who you are, there's only so much of that you can take."

Though he won't say much, Dorsey will admit that the critiques about why he didn't deserve the Heisman, which seemed to pick up steam in the middle of October, grew old fast.

"At times you contemplate blowing up at the media, you want to rip into them. But that's not the message you want to send out, either," Dorsey said. "So I tried to do a better job of not reading the papers when I was playing better and not reading papers when I wasn't. I learned, when you're at the top, people are going to rip you. That's all there is to it."

Some see Dorsey's senior year as a parallel to that of former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning spent much of his last year in Knoxville deflecting criticism that he didn't deserve the Heisman rather than listening to the reasons he should win it. In the end, he was edged out by Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson for the award.

"Tell you what -- if I have the same type of NFL career as he has, this will all work out just fine," Dorsey said.

Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at He can be reached at

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