He began as the first true freshman to start in a UM season opener since 2008. He ended ranked as the all-time leading passer in Miami history with 9,968 passing yards. Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya made a huge impact on the program and on the school, and now he is leaving for the NFL.
“I think it’s pretty great,” junior Joe Reda said. “I know he kind of got pushed into working to meet expectations when he first came here. He had so much opposition at the beginning, so I think it’s really cool.”
Kaaya announced his decision to forgo his senior season at Miami and enter the 2017 NFL Draft on Jan. 2, days after being named Russell Athletic Bowl MVP in a 31-14 win over West Virginia.
“While I am looking forward to pursuing my future endeavors, I am going to miss our fans, media, students, administrators, coaches, families and most importantly my teammates, who were with me through the good times and the tough times,” Kaaya told hurricanesports.com.
When Kaaya arrived, Hurricanes football had been going through a major drought and was suffering from a loss of identity as a program. Kaaya helped put Miami back on the map and may have started the school’s rise back to national prominence.
“With Mark Richt coming in, there was a lot of potential for our football team to improve and that doesn’t happen in one year,” senior Andrea Vorlicek said. “So, I was hoping he would come back, but I also understand it and wish him the best of luck.”
Kaaya leaves a mark that transcends the football field. He had an effect on many students on campus in more ways than one.
“I’m really proud of how far he’s come,” senior Samantha Dowiarz said. “I know he’s been great for our football program and everyone appreciates it. I just hope he doesn’t forget where he came from. UM definitely helped him progress through his career and he should remember that wherever he goes.”
The great majority of UM students, although disappointed upon hearing about his departure, hope that Kaaya has a successful pro career.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate for us, but I think it’s a good move for him,” senior Brian Duranleau said. “I want to see him do well in the NFL. I think he will hold his own.”