Quarterback Brad Kaaya ambled out of the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence close to 3 p.m. Wednesday, weary but happy for himself and 14 former teammates who performed on University of Miami Pro Day.
Last year there was torrential rain at Greentree Field.
Wednesday there was nothing but a broiling sun and blue skies, all 32 NFL teams represented – including defending New England Patriots Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belichick, sporting cargo shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops and cap.
“I actually called him Bill,’’ Kaaya said, grinning. “I didn’t call him ‘Coach’ by accident… So iconic.’’
Never miss a local story.
Kaaya had a very good day, despite performing with a previously undisclosed toe injury on his right foot that he sustained against Virginia Tech on Oct. 20. A source said the turf toe was sustained on the first play of the game.
Kaaya confirmed that was the reason he didn’t run the 40-yard dash Wednesday.
But he said he felt great and it didn’t seem to hurt him at all with his footwork and throwing. His throws were crisp and accurate and he nailed some pretty bombs to former teammates Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis and David Njoku and Standish Dobard.
“I’m good to go,’’ he said. “That’s what I have to go back for another medical recheck for. It didn’t affect how I throw the ball. That’s where I’ve improved the most, my footwork. It didn’t affect that.’’
Kaaya, UM’s all-time passing-yardage leader, said he was really proud of his teammates Wednesday.
“Malcolm did awesome,’’ Kaaya said. “I think they all made some kind of money today. I think they’re all going to be steals for whoever gets them. I think they’re all, whether those guys get drafted late or whether they’re free agents, I think they’re all going to make teams.
“You know how Miami guys are.”
Kaaya said he told his former teammates the day before Pro Day that “‘This is the stuff we’ve been doing the last three or four years right on Greentree. You guys have seen it before. I mean, this is nothing new to us.’
“I said the only thing that changes is a bunch of old men are watching now. That’s the only thing that changes.
“I think the guys went out there and let it rip as if it was practice or a summertime and we were just doing play-around workouts. It felt great.’’
When asked his prediction for the 2017 Hurricanes, Kaaya couldn’t have been more positive.
“Shoot. I’m hoping undefeated,’’ he said. “I’m hoping playoffs. I mean I believe that they can go to the playoffs. That’s my thing. I made a comment that I felt that if I had come back we could have won the national championship because that’s how much I believe in the players and the coaches who are coming back. I just believe in the whole program. I’m hoping playoffs.’’
As for that new quarterback who will be named this fall, Kaaya just hopes everyone accepts him and makes him great.
“I’ve told them it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, just support them. Doesn’t matter if it’s Malik [Rosier] or one of the new guys, Evan [Shirreffs], Jack [Allison], Vince [Testaverde]. It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, just support him to the best of your ability. At the end of the day, you guys make the plays for him. You guys make him right.
“No matter who Coach [Mark] Richt names the starter, I think they’re going to have phenomenal success and hopefully they outshine me. That’s what I’m hoping. I’m hoping for playoffs or championship. I think they’re very capable. They’re more than capable.
“I think the defense is more than capable. Great skill guys. Great O-line. Great kicker – Michael Badgley, my roommate still. No matter who it is, Coach Richt is going to coach them up right, [quarterbacks] coach Jon [Richt] is going to do a really good job, and they’re going to find ways to win.”