MIAMI (AP) Brad Kaaya says he's off to a flying start with new Miami coach Mark Richt.
And that's very good news for the Hurricanes.
Kaaya appeared with about two dozen Hurricane teammates at an elementary school in Miami on Thursday afterboon, talking to children about the importance of education and fitness. And after stepping out of a classroom filled with inquisitive kids, Kaaya raved instead about how his relationship with Richt is fast-evolving.
''I still have things to learn,'' Kaaya said. ''I haven't arrived yet. I haven't hit my ceiling. I still think I have a ways to go and I can get better and make the team better.''
Richt plans on donating $1 million toward the construction of a new indoor practice facility. Miami doesn't have one yet, and hopes to unveil plans for such a structure in the coming weeks. Richt told a group of donors that he was making the $1 million gift to his alma mater to help with the estimated $28 million cost, hoping his pledge would stay quiet.
''He didn't want anybody to know about that,'' Kaaya said. ''That fact right there alone, he doesn't really care who gets the credit. He just wants it to happen. He just has our best interest at heart. I appreciate it. The team certainly does, too.''
Kaaya was one of the few bright spots for Miami last season, when the Hurricanes went 8-5 and saw Al Golden fired at midseason a day after a 58-0 loss to Clemson. Kaaya completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 3,238 yards and 16 touchdowns, raising his two-season totals to 6,436 yards and 42 TDs.
Under a coach whose specialty is quarterbacks like Richt, Kaaya could see his stock rise even more in 2016.
''It's all about hard work,'' Kaaya said. ''That's how my mom raised me. I don't think that's stopping anytime soon.''
Kaaya said the offseason regimen for the Hurricanes right now is intense, and that he plans on spending the entire summer in Miami to get ready for the start of camp in early August. He's added some more muscle to his upper body, weighs around 215 pounds now - up about 11 from when he was a freshman - and said he'll be prepared for whatever style Richt wants to employ.
''I just remember why I started playing football, stuff like this,'' Kaaya said. ''I think back to when I was younger, when I was in high school and didn't have any offers. That kind of sticks in my head. I'm a guy who's not going to let my work ethic loosen up. I'm always going to work hard every day.''