UPDATED, POSTED OCT. 19 AT 11:38 A.M.
Through the years, the University of Miami has seen some truly interesting personalities come through its football program.
There was receiver Michael Irvin, who oozed charisma and leadership during his tenure and probably could have run for mayor.
There was Ray Lewis, the vicious linebacker who listened to opera and Phil Collins before games to get in the right state of mind before launching himself into the torsos of opposing ball carriers.
There was tight end Kellen Winslow II, who fashioned himself a “soldier” on the field and a bodybuilder off of it.
The list is unending and filled with players who were as unique off of the field as they were talented on it. It looks as though it might be time to add a new name to this list: Kayne Farquharson.
Kayne, a first-year Hurricane receiver, may be considered brash by some, arrogant by others. But this junior’s larger-than-life personality harkens back to the days of Irvin and Jerome Brown, outspoken leaders who were not afraid to tell others of their exploits on the field.
Kayne, pronounced “Cane,” grew up dreaming of playing football for UM. With a name like Kayne, he said, it was his destiny to suit up for the program located so close to his hometown of Homestead. The dream of becoming part of the UM legacy drove him to overcome obstacles in his family and never take no for an answer.
Unlike his current teammates, Kayne never got a chance to play high school football.
“I had to babysit my two younger sisters,” he said. “I had to be a man. I had a responsibility. It is what it is. Good happens for some reason, and for some reason this happened to me.”
Throughout high school, Kayne had to keep the house running while his mother worked. Whereas most teens are able to live carefree lives, playing sports and hanging out with friends, Kayne learned quickly that he would have to work for what he wanted.
Although everything seemed to work against his dream, Kayne harbors no ill will toward his mother or anyone else. Instead, he focuses on the work ethic he cultivated during that difficult time. Much of what he learned came from watching his mother.
“She bounced from job to job,” he said. “That’s a hard working woman. She always keeps two jobs. Right now I’m not sure what she’s doing, but I know she’s working hard.”
As he neared the end of high school, the chances of Kayne becoming a ‘Cane seemed non-existent. Major college football coaches are not in the business of taking a chance on kids who have never played a snap at any level above Pop Warner, also called pee wees.
And Kayne had not played since 1997 in youth league. But this couldn’t stop the soon-to-be ‘Cane.
A friend introduced Kayne to Noel Wilbanks, who runs a football camp in Homestead. After one-on-one drills, Wilbanks asked Kayne if he was interested in playing for a junior college team in California.
“I saved up a few dollars and bought a plane ticket,” Kayne said. “The rest is history.”
Junior college football in California is similar to Division I-AA football in other parts of the country. The league is filled with talented players who were coveted by major football programs but could not qualify academically. NFL All-Pros Chad Johnson and Steve Smith are two notable examples.
After a dominant first year at El Camino Community College, he returned home intent on proving his doubters wrong. He was set on becoming a Hurricane. So, he simply went to practice one day at Greentree Practice Field.
“I just came,” Kayne said. “I didn’t know if I could or not. We normally have a guy that stops everyone and I told him a little runaround story.”
He approached then-wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, who asked Kayne if he had any game film, which he pulled out of his back pocket.
“After two or three plays he stopped the tape and said I could play here. He asked me about my grades and I said they were decent. So he pulled my transcript up and the next time I was on break I was in Coach [Larry] Coker’s office. He had the letter and I cried.
“It wasn’t a boo-hoo cry. It was a man cry. There was nothing feminine about it,” Kayne said, laughing.
The notice was an official letter from UM offering Kayne a full scholarship to play football. It would not only include tuition but also books, fees and housing. Kayne, who was paying for all of his junior college that was not covered by grants and other financial aid, had just realized a dream.
He went back to California on a mission. He once again led his team to a junior college title while attaining All-American status. In his spare time, he became something of an Internet chat room legend after tearing up the University of Southern California secondary in a scrimmage between his squad and the powerhouse Trojans.
After completing some summer school courses at Miami-Dade College, Kayne became a Hurricane in fall 2007.
All in all, he beat the odds.
Kayne, however, is not one to rest on his laurels. His dream was not simply to get here; rather, he intends to dominate like his heroes did, especially Irvin. In fact, Kayne’s dream jersey number is 47, a number usually reserved for defensive linemen but made famous at Miami by Irvin in the 1980s.
Kayne isn’t trying to be arrogant when he claims that he will someday dominate. He is simply telling it as he sees it. Sometimes people lose track of his true personality in all the talking he does, all the claims that he makes about being one of the greats. However, his teammates don’t view it as anything beyond leadership.
“Kayne, he’s a little talkative,” said fellow wide receiver Sam Shields. “He talks a lot, but he brings good sense to everybody. He brings good things. I’d say he is a leader of the group. He knows exactly what is going on.”
After dropping his first collegiate pass against Marshall, Kayne kept his attitude positive. Although he played sparingly in the first three games, he broke out against Duke. He led the team with six catches, including an acrobatic touchdown grab that put the Hurricanes on the board in the first quarter.
“It was all good, a dream come true,” Kayne said. “I am a laid back guy, a confident guy. I wasn’t nervous at all; I had had a good week at practice. Now I am focusing on North Carolina.”
Forgive him if he doesn’t get worked up at the prospect of playing a game on Saturdays. After all, just being out there is a dream come true.
Dan Stein may be contacted at email@example.com.