MIAMI -- Miami coach Larry Coker has lost so many players to the NFL that every season feels like a rebuilding year. So this will be nothing new.
The Hurricanes will lose at least 13 starters next season, including tight end Kellen Winslow, safety Sean Taylor, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The three juniors have declared for April's draft, meaning Coker has lost eight underclassmen in three seasons.
"You think we'll miss them?" Coker said jokingly yesterday, a day after the Hurricanes beat Florida State, 16-14, in the Orange Bowl. "I don't know where they'll fall in the draft. I think they'll go very high."
Four of the previous five -- receiver Andre Johnson, running back Willis McGahee, tight end Jeremy Shockey, and cornerback Phillip Buchanon -- were first-round picks. Running back Clinton Portis slipped to the second round.
"Every year is a rebuilding year for us it seems," Coker said. "When you lose the first-round draft choices we lose, every year is somewhat that way."
Linebackers D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma and guard Vernon Carey also are projected to be early draft picks.
Cornerback Antrel Rolle could become the fourth Miami junior to declare for the draft. He said he will wait to see where he is projected to be selected before making a decision.
Despite having 13 players selected in the first round over the last three years, the Hurricanes (11-2) have been a force -- winning four straight Big East championships and playing in each of the four Bowl Championship Series games.
Miami moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season and opens Sept. 6 -- a Monday night game on Labor Day -- against the Seminoles. It will be the third meeting between the state rivals in less than 11 months.
Playing in the same conference could make the matchups even more intense, although that might be hard to imagine considering Thursday night's Orange Bowl.
There was some talk before the game that two teams so accustomed to playing for national championships -- either Miami or Florida State had played in the title game the previous five years -- would show little emotion.
That was put to rest early, when Vilma leveled Chris Rix, when Eric Winston and Kevin Emanuel exchanged punches, and when Greg Jones ran over Sean Taylor.
"If we would have played somebody else, we would have played hard and prepared, but I don't think the emotion would have been quite the same," Coker said.
Miami won its fifth straight in the series -- matching its longest streak set in 1957.
It was typical Florida State-Miami. Hard hits, big plays, close score -- even a missed kick. Xavier Beitia missed a 39-yarder with 5:30 to play that would have given the Seminoles the lead.
"It feels like about all of them," said Florida State's Bobby Bowden, major college's winningest coach with 342 career victories but just 12-19 against the Hurricanes. "You gradually accept it."