It was senior day.
The final game of the season. The Miami Hurricanes are bowl bound.
And Brad Kaaya hosted the party.
Kaaya became Miami’s career passing leader, throwing for 396 yards and a career-high-tying four touchdowns as the Hurricanes beat Duke 40-21. Kaaya now has 9,686 yards in three seasons — 121 more than Ken Dorsey, who piled up 9,565 from 1999 through 2002.
Dorsey is arguably the most legendary quarterback who was part of one of the greatest college football dynasties however Kaaya has been the best quarterback since the Dorsey era ended. Question is will Kaaya, who is a junior, end his stay at “The U” or take his talents to the NFL?
“It might have crossed my mind a little bit, that it could be,” Kaaya said, when asked if he considered the possibility that this was his last home game as a Hurricane. “But I’ve still got some things to look at, to factor in, to talk over and hash out with Coach Richt, my parents and some mentors of mine.”
This was the 11th 300-yard game of Kaaya’s college career, the fourth four-TD game he’s had as a Hurricane and he’s now the only quarterback in Miami history with three seasons of at least 3,000 yards.
Kaaya could be the first Miami quarterback to be drafted in the first round in 30 years. Miami has had only two QBs go that early — Jim Kelly (No. 14 overall) in 1983, and Vinny Testaverde (No. 1 overall) in 1987.
Dorsey was fortunate to ask opponents to pick their poison with the weapons he had offensively at his disposal. But with a cloud of sanctions over the Hurricanes program and inconsistency in coaching, Kaaya made the best of the teammates he had around him. Wide receiver Stacy Coley and tight end David Njoku are a two who stood out in this game.
Coley caught the 42-yard reception that broke the mark set by Dorsey. Kaaya on an audible decided to take a shot on a deep ball to Njoku, turning into a 76-yard touchdown and the first of two long ones for Njoku in the game. “We started slow, we were not really happy at halftime, Brad did not do anything so he threw those balls in the perfect spot and completed them,” Njoku stated. The 6’4”, 245 lb junior tight end finished with two catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns. Coley made nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
On senior day, Miami honored its 14 departing seniors in a pregame ceremony, as well as four underclassmen — one being reserve offensive lineman Hunter Knighton, who recovered from heatstroke and returned to the field last season. Knighton will try to play elsewhere in 2017.
Duke’s season comes to an end and coach David Cutcliffe was emotional after the game, talking about his senior class. “I’m looking at our seniors and the body of work that they’ve done. The pain in their eyes, knowing that it’s come to an end, you can’t get past that,” Cutcliffe said.
The beat goes on for the Hurricanes who are awaiting their bowl invitation on Dec. 4, possibly to the TaxSlayer or Pinstripe Bowl.