ORLANDO — The Hurricanes fans who stayed long, about 3,000 of them, chanted “one more year” at Brad Kaaya as he accepted the MVP trophy of the Russell Athletic Bowl.
But Kaaya will not announce a decision regarding his future — whether he will stay at Miami for his senior season or leave for the NFL draft — for a few days.
Kaaya, the junior quarterback who now stands as Miami’s career leader in yards (9,968), completions (720) and attempts (1,188), said he still has some “soul-searching to do” and will decide his future in the coming days.
”I’m not really leaning a certain way right now,” said Kaaya, who is also third at UM in touchdowns (69).
He plans to talk to a list of confidants that include his coaches, current teammates, former teammates, mentors and family. He said UM is “headed to greatness” with or without him, but added that “it’s every kid’s dream” to chase — and win — a national title.
Miami (9-4) returns a loaded defense and several major pieces on offense. It will not return tight end David Njoku, who declared after the game.
Wearing a backwards cap and a t-shirt that commemorated Miami’s 34-14 win over West Virginia, Kaaya looked as happy and as confident as he ever publicly had. He said the win “meant a lot to me and my teammates. … There are some really good players who came through here and haven’t won a bowl game.”
The win was Miami’s first bowl victory in 10 seasons. And Kaaya earned all but a few MVP votes after finishing 24-of-34 for 282 yards. He threw four touchdown passes and tied a UM bowl record in that category (Craig Erickson, 1991).
He started just 5-of-13 but closed hot, completing 19 of his final 21. “Just let it rip,” coach Mark Richt told him after his poor start.
That’s something like his season, which saw him become Miami’s career leader in passing yards with a prolific November. He became the school’s leader in attempts and completions during the bowl.
Russell Athletic Bowl 2016