As we tick the days off to the season opener against the Patriots on Sept. 7, each day we highlight the players who wore that particular jersey number during their tenure in Miami. In some cases, the player and jersey number are synonymous. In other cases, the jersey number represents sustained greatness at a particular position. Whatever the case may be, jersey numbers are an important part of the fabric of professional football.
This jersey was dominated by a number of players who found themselves in and out of the starting lineup during their Dolphins careers. The first was running back Gary Davis (1976-79), who started 11 games in his four years in Miami, playing behind runners like Benny Malone and Delvin Williams. Still, he rushed for over 300 yards twice, including 533 yards in 1977 and was the team’s leading kickoff returner his first two years. He was followed by another running back, Lorenzo Hampton (1985-89), who also had stints as a starter in the offensive backfield, especially from 1986 through 1988. In the ’86 season he started all 16 games and led the Dolphins in rushing with 830 yards and was second on the team with 61 catches, and he led Miami in rushing again in 1988. Like Davis before him, Hampton also was a valuable kickoff returner, leading the team in that category twice in his five years with the Dolphins. The third player who performed well as a starter and a reserve was cornerback Terrell Buckley (1995-99, 2003). He played mainly as a starter during his first tour of duty with the Dolphins, even ahead of Patrick Surtain during Surtain’s first two years in the league. The combination of Buckley, Sam Madison and Surtain as a third corner gave the Dolphins one of the strongest nickel defenses in team history. Buckley tied or led the team in interceptions for three straight years (1996-98), and his 164 INT return yards in 1996 (including a 91-yard TD return) led the NFL in that category. Buckley’s 24 interceptions as a Dolphin still is tied for the sixth highest total in team history. He also was a valuable return man, sharing the punt return duties with O.J. McDuffie for most of his Dolphin career. A couple of statistical notes about Buckley’s career - he is the only player in NFL history with 50 or more career interceptions never to make the Pro Bowl, and he also played two seasons of minor league baseball, never hitting over .202, proving he made the right decision to stick with football. The jersey is now worn by safety Jimmy Wilson
(2011-current), who like the other DBs before him wearing this number has alternated between playing as a starter and as a reserve. In the last two years he has started seven games, many when the Dolphins opened with five defensive backs.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #27 includes Gary Tucker (1968); Gary Davis (1976-79); Lorenzo Hampton (1985-89); Stevon Moore (1990); David Pool (1994); Terrell Buckley (1995-99); Arturo Freeman (2000-02); Terrell Buckley (2003); Will Poole (2004-05); Shirdonya Mitchell (2006); Lamont Thompson (2007); Samkon Gado (2007); Benny Sapp (2010-11); and Jimmy Wilson (2011-13).
What player who wore # 26 set an NFL record as a Dolphin for most rushing attempts in a playoff game and barely missed another, ranking second for the most yards rushing in a post-season contest? Hint: He also has the highest single season rushing total by any Dolphin running back not named Williams.
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