State Colleges

UM’s Kaaya, Yearby chosen for the Maxwell Award watch list

Brad Kaaya earned the preseason recognition thanks to a strong sophomore season in which he threw for more than 3,000 yards for the second straight year.
Brad Kaaya earned the preseason recognition thanks to a strong sophomore season in which he threw for more than 3,000 yards for the second straight year. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Maxwell Football Club selected University of Miami juniors Brad Kaaya and Joe Yearby to the preseason watch list for the 80th annual Maxwell Award on Tuesday.

The Maxwell Award has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937.

Kaaya earned the preseason recognition thanks to a strong sophomore season in which he threw for more than 3,000 yards for the second straight year, passed for 16 touchdowns and had just five interceptions. Kaaya was one of three players nationally to throw for 3,000 or more yards, 10 or more touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions.

Yearby’s preseason recognition came following a breakout 2015 campaign where he rushed for 1,002 yards and had eight total touchdowns (six rushing, two receiving). Yearby averaged 4.9 yards per carry and had 77.1 yards per game. He also ranked fourth on the team with 23 receptions.

BASKETBALL

▪ FIU men: Coach Anthony Evans added two 6-foot-9 forwards — Michael Kessens and Jay Harvey — to the Panthers’ roster. Kessens, joins FIU after playing two seasons at Alabama, graduated this past spring and will have one year of eligibility as he works towards his master’s degree. In two seasons at Alabama, Kessens averaged 4.7 points- and 2.7 rebounds-per-contest in 65 games. Harvey, who has played just three years of organized basketball, played the last two seasons at Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Illinois, averaging 3 points per game and grabbing 5.3 rebounds a game.

▪ Barry women: After losing nine seniors, including all five starters, to graduation, coach Bill Sullivan has signed a trio of four-year transfers to the 2016-17 recruiting class. Juniors Kiara Palmer and Lexy Schoonover and sophomore Lauren Seyranian will be joining the Buccaneers this fall. Palmer, a 6-foot center from the University of Rhode Island, is a Buccaneer legacy. Her sister Kia played for the Bucs from 2007-09. Schoonover is a 5-8 point guard from Armstrong State. Seyranian, is a 5-10 swing forward from UC Davis.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Nova Southeastern sophomore Jamie Freedman (for the second straight year), and freshman Aldana Foigel were honored as All-American Scholars by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.

Academics

Academics continue to be an important focal point in the FIU Athletic Department. Over the past few years, FIU student-athletes have made tremendous academic strides and the 2015-16 academic year was no exception. The Panthers notched their highest overall grade-point average (3.1) on record, while increasing its Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) 19 percentage points.

“The word ‘student’ in ‘student-athlete’ will always be the most important thing to us,” FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia said. “The work that our student-athletes have done in the classroom is outstanding. Their dedication, along with the commitment of our coaches, faculty and Student-Athlete Academic Center (SAAC) towards high academic standards, is the reason we see such impressive results.”

This past academic year, the FIU Athletic Department registered its highest Fall GPA on record only to follow that up with the highest spring GPA on record. During the Spring of 2016, 273 student-athletes registered GPAs of 3.0-or-better and 143 Panthers were named to the FIU Dean’s List. In all,FIU student-athletes combined to earn a 3.0-or-better 515 times, Dean’s List 270 times, a 3.75-or-better 154 times and a 4.0-or-better 60 times during the 2015-16 academic year (Fall 2015 and Spring 2016).

During the last five terms (Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Summer 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016), FIU has had a total of 1,165 student-athletes earn a GPA of 3.0-or-better, while 681 were named to the Dean’s List. There were 362 student-athletes who earned a GPA of 3.75-or-better and 195 earned a 4.0.

This upcoming Fall, the NCAA will release its annual reports for Graduation Success Rate (GSR), Federal Graduation Rate for student-athletes and Federal Graduation Rate for all students with FIU showing an increase in all three.

FIU saw a five percent increase in its NCAA GSR from a year ago. In fact, FIU’s Graduation Success Rate (76 percent) has increased a total of 10 percent over the past two years. The four-class average FGR for FIU student-athlete’s increased six percent from the previous report, led by the men’s basketball and football teams. Men’s basketball made a tremendous jump, improving by 17 percentage points, while football made a jump of eight. The FGR for all students that entered FIU in 2009-10 was 57 percent compared to 70 percent for FIU student-athletes in the same timeframe.

“We expect to keep producing this upward trend and continue to set a high academic standard in the Athletic Department,” Garcia said.

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