University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya decides to enter NFL Draft

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) carries his MVP trophy after the University of Miami defeats West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wednesday, December 28, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) carries his MVP trophy after the University of Miami defeats West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wednesday, December 28, 2016.

University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya needed only three seasons to become the Hurricanes’ career leader in passing yards, completions and attempts.

He won’t be back for a fourth.

As expected, Kaaya announced Monday that he’s turning pro after his recently completed junior season, a decision he called “one of the toughest” of his life.

“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, a native of Los Angeles, said in a statement.

“Attending a University this far from home wasn’t the easiest transition initially, but this program provided me a home away from home ever since my arrival in 2014. Since then I have registered as a resident of Florida and am proud to call Miami my long-term home.

“I plan to be involved with the University of Miami moving forward as I pursue my degree in communications. I also will give back to this university and South Florida community, two places that had such a positive impact on my life. I look forward to watching Coach [Mark] Richt and his staff, and our team do even bigger and better things for years to come.”

Kaaya added that “this was one of the toughest decisions of my life, however, I have zero worries that The U will indeed be back. No matter who is under center next season, I have no doubt in my mind they will have the platform and the resources around them to bring a major championship back to Coral Gables. Miami will forever hold a special place in my heart and I am proud to say that I will always be a Miami Hurricane.”

Two talent evaluators contacted by the Miami Herald said Kaaya projects as a third-round pick. ESPN’s Mel Kiper said recently he projects for the third round or late in the second.

Kiper said before the season that if Kaaya had played up to expectations, he had the potential to rise to the top of the draft.

“I really think he could use another year,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said, via text message. “He’s a smooth, accurate thrower when everything is clean and on time. When he has to move or gets heat, he really struggles. Arm talent is similar to [Cleveland Browns rookie third-round pick] Kody Kessler.”

Six quarterbacks will compete to replace Kaaya at UM: Malik Rosier (who was second on the depth chart all season), redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, Jack Allison (who redshirted as a freshman this past season), walk-on Vincent Testaverde (a major long shot) and two quarterbacks orally committed to UM: Cade Weldon and N’Kosi Perry.

Perry is considered a high-end prospect but won’t arrive until the summer. Weldon is expected to enroll in January.

Rosier, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, is the only one of the group who has thrown a pass at UM. In nine appearances over two seasons, Rosier is 31 for 61 for 370 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Richt has said that he envisions UM’s next quarterback will have the ability to run. Rosier, Perry and Weldon are all considered mobile, with Perry perhaps having the most upside as a dual-threat quarterback.

Besides holding UM career records with 9968 yards passing, 720 completions and 1188 attempts, Kaaya is third in UM history with 69 touchdown passes — compared with 24 interceptions in 38 games — and his 60.6 percent career completion percentage also ranks third on UM’s all-time list.

He’s the only quarterback in Miami history to surpass 3,000 yards passing in three consecutive seasons.

“Brad informed me of his intention to declare for the NFL Draft,” Richt said in a statement. “I want to personally thank Brad for all that he’s done for the University of Miami. He has been a blessing to the program and I know he’s going to have a wonderful professional career. I want to wish him the very best!”

Kaaya was a two-time All-ACC selection and was named the 2014 ACC Rookie of the Year. In the classroom, Kaaya earned CoSIDA Academic All-District team honors this past season.

“On behalf of University of Miami Athletics I want to thank Brad for the wonderful job he did representing our program on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” UM athletic director Blake James said. “We wish him the very best as he starts the next chapter of his football career.”

Once dubbed Quarterback U, UM hasn't had a quarterback drafted since Ken Dorsey was a seventh-rounder in 2003. UM hasn't had a QB picked before the seventh round since Craig Erickson went in the fourth in 1992.