- Associated Press - Monday, August 30, 2010

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Kenny Berry won a national championship in his final season at Miami. Alonzo Highsmith’s title ring came in a season when hardly anybody expected the Hurricanes to be great.

Their sons would like to see history repeat.

For Damien Berry and A.J. Highsmith, being part of the Miami football family is extra significant _ since their fathers helped build the tradition the current Hurricanes want to uphold. Damien Berry is a senior running back, A.J. Highsmith a sophomore backup quarterback, and each could end up playing big roles this season for 13th-ranked Hurricanes, who open Thursday against Florida A&M.

“This is home,” Damien Berry said.

Indeed, Miami football has been part of the makeup of the Berry and Highsmith families for decades.

Alonzo Highsmith was part of the 1983 national title season, the first of five championships for the Hurricanes. He converted from defensive end in high school to running back in college, was Miami’s leading rusher in the 1983 Orange Bowl win over heavily favored Nebraska, and went on to be a first-round NFL pick.

The elder Highsmith was featured prominently in a documentary about the Hurricanes that premiered late last year, and some of his son’s teammates never made the connection until then about the deep family ties to the program.

“I still don’t think they know exactly who he was,” said A.J. Highsmith, who completed 4 of 6 passes as a freshman in limited duty last season. “He’s a lot different now than he was back then.”

When it comes to the Berry family story, father and son, too, are very different. Or exactly the same, depending on perspective.

Kenny Berry was a standout running back when he came to Miami, then switched to defensive back while with the Hurricanes. Damien Berry came to college targeted for safety, then was converted to running back _ his natural position _ during his sophomore season.

And now, Berry might end up as Miami’s go-to back this fall.

“We had a conversation about the transition from defensive back to running back,” Kenny Berry said. “And I asked him, ‘Where have all your blessings come from? Where have you been the most successful?’ He’s capable of tremendous things on both sides of the ball, but some of the things he’s done running it, from high school to Pop Warner, he’s always been a running back by nature.”

Adding to the family ties that bind is this: Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon played with both of the fathers at Miami.

“We always say that when you play at the University of Miami, you’re a part of the University of Miami family forever,” Shannon said. “I think A.J. and Damien wanted to be part of that for themselves.”

A third-generation Hurricane could be looming.

Story Continues →