November 27, 2016

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Miami coach Mark Richt and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, looking for players to fill various needs next year and beyond.

His shopping list might expand soon.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya - who became Miami's all-time passing leader in Saturday's regular-season-ending victory over Duke - has not divulged his plans yet, though it seems likely that he skips his senior season and enters the NFL draft. There's other underclassmen who will also take a look at leaving early, and that means Richt will be having some important meetings soon.

''I don't know what I'm doing, honestly,'' Kaaya said.

If so, that's where Richt will offer whatever help he can provide.

What's about to happen at Miami is no different than what will happen at plenty of other schools in the coming days and weeks. There's an NFL draft advisory board that, if contacted, will report back to a player and say if evaluators believe he is a likely first-rounder, likely second-rounder or other - their way of saying, ''return to school.''

Kaaya will likely ask that board for input, and said he also has a group of mentors whose brains he will pick.

''I want what's best for all our guys,'' Richt said. ''If it's in the best interest for him to move on, then that's what we want for him. Is that necessarily true? I don't know. That's what we've got to investigate. There's time between now and when they have to declare to try to get a real clear picture of what's in his best interest.''

It's not just Kaaya that Miami could lose early.

Tight end David Njoku, who had touchdown catches of 58 and 76 yards in the win over Duke, is also likely to take a hard look at the NFL - where former Hurricanes Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen have been among the league's best at the position this season. And running back Joe Yearby, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2015 who took a back seat to starter Mark Walton this year, is weighing his options.

''I'll talk to them soon,'' Richt said of the Hurricanes who may leave early. ''The first meeting is just about trying to get a feel for what they're thinking. If they're like, `Coach, I'm coming back no matter what,' it makes it pretty simple. If they say, `I'm not sure,' then it gets to a point where I want them to understand how I'm going to go about it - and that is educate them the best we can with the best information. That's really NFL information.''

Until then, Miami will wait.

There are no practices for probably two weeks or so, time that the Hurricanes will spend conditioning and working on academics. Miami's bowl destination will be finalized next Sunday, and it's typical for most players to wait until the bowl game to announce if they're staying or leaving.

Kaaya's timetable is unclear. But after a season in which Miami started 4-0, then went 0-4 and finished on another 4-0 stretch, he did acknowledge that he's savoring what this team has done.

''The guys didn't quit,'' Kaaya said. ''The guys kept getting up every day and going to work and doing the little things right. I figured at some point something had to give. The ball was going to go our way at some point because the guys never gave up.''

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