ORLANDO – He’s the main man, the quarterback everyone is asking about.
But University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was not made available to the media this week in Orlando as the Hurricanes (8-4) prepare to meet West Virginia (10-2) on Wednesday in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
A national media member on Sunday asked why, during a news conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.
“Because he really has wanted to focus on the game,’’ answered Canes coach Mark Richt, “and I think everybody wants to ask him about other things. He doesn’t really want to talk about it right now.
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“That’s the main reason.’’
As Canes fans wait to see if Kaaya will return to Coral Gables for his senior season – he is believed to be leaning heavily toward entering the NFL Draft – Richt did shed light on what Kaaya has meant to the program.
“To this point,’’ Richt said, “Brad has been nothing but the starting quarterback since the day he walked on campus. That’s a big responsibility. He has been a tremendous leader and the face of this program. His picture is all over everything that you can put a guy’s picture on or image on, mainly because of how well he plays on the field but how he represents the university.
“He’s a good kid.’’
What’s unique about Kaaya?
“He has the best peripheral vision I’ve been around and an ability to recall what happened,’’ Richt said. “I can ask him what he saw and to me, it’s amazing what he’ll see and why he did what he did.
“His vision, I think, is really special.’’
UM senior guard Danny Isidora, one of Kaaya’s on-field protectors, said this bowl feels more special than UM’s last three, all of which they lost.
“Yeah, it does,’’ said Isidora. “It’s the last one, but it feels good. I was here [in 2013 for the Russell against Louisville] and we went to the same Best Buy,’’ he said of the team’s shopping spree. “I met a couple in 2013 and they took a picture with me and [tackle] Sunny [Odogwu] and they came back to the Best Buy this year and showed us the picture on the phone.
“It was pretty crazy. I looked really young and Sunny had his blonde hair. It was pretty ridiculous. We were like, ‘Let’s take another picture so you have it.’’’