There were plenty of considerations for this, but we’ll look at the top 3 performers from the Russell Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia.
#3: Ahmmon Richards
Richards has been Miami’s best receiver for the entire season. The TRUE freshman accounted for 49 catches, 934 yards and three touchdowns on the year, and will be a TERROR for opposing offenses in the coming seasons. Miami’s offense was STRUGGLING for much of the first half, until Richards decided to take matters into his own hands.
---- Latest #RapidReplay ----LIVE Sports Replay from the NFL - NBA- MLB - NHL - FIFA -#FLHSFB - #TXHSFB - Football… pic.twitter.com/uxBciZcwKq— Audible Sports (@AudibleSports) December 29, 2016
BEAST! The Canes got rolling after the sensational play from Richards, putting 21 points on the board in the final 6:44 of the second quarter, and Richards was the catalyst.
#2: Joe Jackson
ANOTHER TRUE FRESHMAN. Jackson came on late in the season as he gained more experience earned more playing time. He grew into his role, and STARTED against WVU. If you watched the broadcast on ESPN, you heard Jackson’s name a myriad of times and heard constant praise from the announcers.
Enjoy your two more seasons watching Joe Jackson at Miami, Canes fans pic.twitter.com/oZHjXvQlMc— Peter Ariz (@PeterAriz) December 29, 2016
It was hard to single out anyone on the defense, but Jackson was the choice. He will be a SPECIAL talent for Miami for the next two seasons.
#1: Brad Kaaya
Well...second, third and fourth quarter Brad Kaaya. The junior QB was frankly awful for the better part of the first half, but then a switch came on for Kaaya and he absolutely lit up the WVU defense.
Brad Kaaya has completed his last 10 passes for 157 yards and 3 TDs.#Canes leading 21-7, 27 seconds left in the first half— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 29, 2016
Kaaya’s three second quarter TDs were the most he’s ever thrown in a quarter in his career. He finished with 282 yards, four touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. The Russell Athletic Bowl MVP showed how he DESERVES to be one of the top QBs in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, which a decision of his is still looming.
Miami beats No. 16 West Virginia 31–14 for its 1st bowl win in 10 years. Brad Kaaya throws 282 yards and 4 TDs https://t.co/ZB7m6VjvTu pic.twitter.com/5aFcGuUfbD— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) December 29, 2016
- Mark Walton (17 carries, 52 yards, and this MEAN block)
Mark walton gets a fake handoff in the backfield than gets shot out of a cannon to make a block 40 yards down field....#effort https://t.co/2e1P2AkaWt— rOmaN (@romancane) December 29, 2016
- David Njoku (5 receptions, 44 yards, 1 TD)
Props to David Njoku; whose broken-tackle, highlight-reel, 23-yard haul-in just guaranteed his farewell to #TheU — https://t.co/M5PxqUf5Pf— It's a U Thing BLOG (@ItsAUThingBlog) December 29, 2016
- THE WHOLE DAMN DEFENSE!!!! A team that lists FIVE TRUE FRESHMAN STARTERS held WVU QB Skyler Howard to 134 passing yards and made him the top rusher on the team as well (63). Considering WVU had FOUR running backs rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season, that’s absolutely phenomenal. WVU scoring more than seven points was a gift, honestly, due to the fact that WVU had about five or sex drives start at midfield in the first half. This defense is LIGHT YEARS better than they were last season, and all the props go to Manny Diaz and this defensive staff. Sorry, opposing 2017 offenses, but the ENTIRE TWO DEEP FRONT 7 COMES BACK NEXT SEASON!
- Mark Richt. You can’t go as far as saying he’s completely turned the program around, but this team is way better than they’ve ever been, and this is with a young team with minimal depth. Right & Co. helped end a decade-long bowl winless streak for Miami and carry momentum into the offseason for the first time since 2006. Good times await, and we have to thank Richt for all he’s done...and it’s only the beginning.
Those are my 3(+) stars of the game. Who are yours? Comment below!
IT’S GREAT TO BE A MIAMI HURRICANE!!!