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Al Golden on Jonathan Vilma: "The quintessential Miami Hurricane"

Dressed in a suit and tie and sporting a big smile, Jonathan Vilma handed over a check to the University of Miami athletic department on Tuesday for $450,000, a donation that goes toward completing the funding for the Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.

Vilma_jon The fact Vilma made the donation is no surprise. The Saints Pro Bowl middle linebacker has always had a big heart. He does countless events in the South Florida community and in two years has raised over $200,000 in relief efforts for the earthquake victims in Haiti through his foundation. He said Tuesday he will be going to Haiti in November -- during the Saints bye week -- to visit the schools and people his foundation has been aiding.

In honor of Tuesday's gift, UM will name the new players lounge, a space for football players to relax and gather before and after practice at the Schwartz Center, in Vilma's honor.

Vilma isn't the first former Cane to open his wallet to help his alma mater. Recently retired running back Edgerrin James has done it before and has the team's meeting room named in his honor.

Still, it's harder to find a player Canes fans should love more than Vilma.

Like many former Canes, he's gone back to UM after each of his first seven NFL seasons to train with Andreu Swasey and serve as a mentor for current and former players during their spring and summer workouts. But he spends more time there than anybody -- "anywhere from 3 1/2 to 4 months," he said Tuesday, "from February to June." One season, he said, he even took a fine from the Jets so he could remain at UM, instead of training with pro teammates.

And the relationships he builds with young players when he's at UM are deep. Sean Spence calls him "a big brother."

"Jon is a guy I look up to," Spence said. "That was one of the linebackers I always watched growing up. Then when I got here, he took me under his wing as a little brother. We ran with it from there. He's done nothing but kept it real with me, told me what I needed to work on, what I needed to be a great linebacker here at UM. We've watched film a couple times and I think it really helps me look at the game different. But it's not all about football. We talk and have a couple laughs too."

Swasey said having Vilma around "is huge because players not only hear what he says, but see him come in at 7 a.m. and do everything they do."

"A lot of guys come in, but he's probably here more than anybody," said Swasey, UM's strength and conditioning coach. "Sometimes the NFL might seem so distant for these guys. But he gives them a platform. He's approachable, he communicates with them and gives them hope. They say 'Man I can do it.' That's pretty special."

Al Golden said Vilma has become "the quintessential Miami Hurricane."

"One of the things we talk about is gratitude and appreciation and I think this is the ultimate illustration of gratitude," Golden said. "All you have to do is listen to his speech. If that doesn't move you or help you understand what it means to be a part of the University of Miami football program, I don't know what will. That's an amazing human being right there."

Comments

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Not to be outdone, Uncle Luke made it hail a King of Diamonds with nickles. Bringin' SWAG back five cents at a time. Holla if ya heard.

Not to be outdone, Uncle Luke made it hail a King of Diamonds with nickles. Bringin' SWAG back five cents at a time. Holla if ya heard.

Another proud alum setting the example for those to come.

[]_[]PRIDE

I like Vilma. I don't know if he's in UM Hall of fame, but should be soon. He's on his way to NFL H of F too. Now if only U had some more LB's like Vilma...

all they have is Channing Crowder gettin his arse whipped by Logan Mankins every other week @ COOL CAT

The U Family is unlike any other and unmatched in all of college football.

Or Emmitt SmiF pinking them on national TV.

That is more embarrassing than anything that has ever happened to any school.

Their most famous football alum hates them. It only goes downhill from there.

Wow, what a craphole the U of Turdville is.

J-Vilma is one of the classiest players ever! We are so pround of you Jonathan!

Vilma, also a proud alum of Coral Gables HS
National champions 1965
"theres no defense for Larry Rentz"
shows you how old we are

It's nice to see former UM players give back to the institution that helped put them on the road to success. It would be nice to hear these stories more often. Giving back to the community that helped give one their start is huge.

JV laid one of the all time licks on a VT qb in the OB. Quite memorable.

Nice to see the contribution and ongoing commitment to the U. Smart, articulate guy who is just a class act.

Indy Cane....My son and I met JVilma in the opener with La Tech in 2002 in Shreveport,La....Loves talking football...Loves talking with Cane Alum and Fans...Totally a class act and one of the U's great linebackers....Loved the hit he put on the Nebraska Tight end in the 2001 Rose Bowl late in the game..Classic Stick...We Love #51....AustinCaneJim

The epitome of a class act. The hallmark Cane. Smart, articulate, a baller. A true baller. A pro bowler, Super Bowl champ.

Take his example, Channing Crowder or Brandon Spike- You will never ever be like Jon Vilma. In life or in football.

Pure Class! The true meaning of "being the best."

In HONOR on Jonathan Vilma, please revisit his Greatest Hit as a Miami Hurricane against Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl...I believe he was only a Freshman...enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8aSGYIlVPw&feature=related

Jonathan,

You are everything good about football, and we are proud of you! Thank you!

The article did not mention it but Vilma was awarded the "Iron Arrow." It is the highest honor the university can bestow on one of it's alumni or faculty and I can't think of another football player who has earned it. It comes with the ugliest jacket of all time;-)

Good stuff Jon. Preciate everything you and Edge has done for the program. This Heineken is for you..

Jon Vilma is a class act. Excellent character. Family always comes home to pay tribute in one way or another. What generosity.

God Bless You Jon Vilma

God Bless The U

All successful UM atheletes should donate to their schools

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