University of Miami

Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya named ACC Rookie of the Year

UM quarterback Brad Kaaya throws a pass against Duke at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.
UM quarterback Brad Kaaya throws a pass against Duke at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Miami Herald Staff

On a day that its freshman quarterback was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, the University of Miami also reported that star senior tight end Clive Walford will undergo knee surgery Wednesday.

Walford, a senior who is one of three finalists for the Mackey Award given annually to the nation’s top tight end, injured his right knee Saturday against Pittsburgh in the second quarter after catching four passes for 49 yards.

The most prolific tight end in UM history, Walford now has 121 catches for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns for his career. But he might not improve those numbers if he can’t play in the still-unspecified bowl game.

A source familiar with the situation said Tuesday it is believed the injury is related to Walford’s meniscus, but doctors will not be sure until they explore the knee during surgery.

If doctors determine the injury is more serious, Walford would be unable to play in the bowl game, the source said. However, if it is comparable to left tackle Ereck Flower’s meniscus injury, Walford might be able to return for the bowl — much like Flowers did two-and-a-half weeks after surgery.

It is unknown if Walford would choose to skip the game regardless to preserve his health for the NFL Draft.

As for Kaaya, who also was voted the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, he ranks second among league quarterbacks in passing yards with 2,962 and fifth in total offense with 236.5 yards per game. He is No. 1 in the conference in passing efficiency.

Kaaya threw for more than 200 yards eight times this season. He set Miami’s true freshman single-game passing yardage record twice, the second time with 359 yards Sept. 13 at Nebraska.

Kaaya finished the regular season ranked in the top 20 of four national statistical categories and was the only true freshman quarterback in the country to throw for 2,900 yards and 25 or more touchdowns.

GOLDEN’S FUTURE

The topic of the day among local sports media continued to be UM coach Al Golden’s future, specifically, whether the UM Board of Trustees addressed that topic and came to some type of decision during a Tuesday meeting.

UM athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald by phone Tuesday evening, “There was no Board of Trustees meeting regarding our football program or coach today, and as I said last week, Al is our coach and will continue to be our coach.”

▪ Jaquan Johnson, a four-star safety out of Miami Killian, signed a grant-in-aid agreement with the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday. Johnson, who will compete in the US Army All-American Bowl in January, was also invited to Nike’s “The Opening’’ last July for the nation’s top rising seniors.

“Quan has become like family to our program over the last several years,” Golden said. “He is a sharp young man — smart, tough, athletic, and a leader on and off the field. I know he is proud to be a Miami Hurricane and can’t wait to get started in January.”

Miami Herald sportswriter Manny Navarro contributed to this report.

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