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July 20, 2015

Brad Kaaya Raphael Kirby


THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Raphael Kirby.

Q. First and foremost, looking at Miami and this season, what you took away from the spring, how you define this team moving forward.
RAPHAEL KIRBY: Right now the culture of our team is tremendous. Guys are just competing, dominating. Everything we do, we do it to the best of our ability. Me being a leader, everything I do, I do with my teammates' heart. The coach change at Miami, we want to get back to winning, that's what's most important.

Q. It seems like your sophomore year and junior year you started to come into your own each year. As you roll into this season, what is your expectation for yourself?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: Being that leader, that vocal leader, making sure guys understand what we need to do in order to be successful. This off-season I practiced my leadership on and off the field, being more vocal, being more the guy in the huddle to command the huddle. On the field, just making all the calls, checks, making sure everybody is in place.

Q. From Miami's perspective, what does the Florida State/Miami rivalry mean to you guys?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: It's one of the biggest rivalries in college football. Every year Florida State is on our schedule, just like vice versa. It's one of those games where you lay everything on the line and hope for the best.

Q. You talk about your leadership skills. Are you more of a vocal leader in the locker room or on the field?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: I feel like it has to be both. Our locker room has changed tremendously because of the way me, myself, Brad, other guys on the team are leading. On the field, anytime I see anything, I'm very vocal, make sure I let them know I see it, make sure I get the same back from them.

Q. You played a perfect game early in beating North Carolina, then a string of losses. You lost a number of players to the NFL. How do you go from where you are now with a lot of new players to getting back to where you were November 1st and before?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: You mainly learn from those things that you didn't do well last year. You don't sit here and harp on it because it's a new year. What we did this year, we got back into our own ways. Guys are not focused on themselves, guys are focused on the team, what's best for the team.

Q. Raphael, coach has come under fire a bit from the fan base and some alums. What are your feelings about what he's been through and how much pressure he has?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: I don't really read too much into that, to be honest with you. I don't really read too much about the media about coach, this and that. I know what he does for us. I know he's a great guy for us. He's the perfect coach for us. Everything he does, he has our best interests at heart. We feel the same way for him.

Q. Going through spring and summer conditioning, as you think about the team as a whole, then start to think about the individual parts of the team, is there one unit that you think is going to stand out to make the whole team better?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: I mean, newcomers right now would be Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine. As a unit, I think the whole defensive unit is going to be dominant this year. As long as every guy does their job, you do your 1/11th, we'll be great.

Q. You mentioned Sheldrick Redwine. What can you say why he's a guy people should pay attention to this season?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: He came in. I could just tell by his work ethic. We do seven-on-sevens, one-on-ones. He gets along with all the players. Seems like he's been there for a while. I was just talking to Brad about him. He feels the same way. He's a guy that can come in and help us right off the bat.

Q. At the end of the season, how do you mark success, define success as you look back on it?
RAPHAEL KIRBY: Coastal championship. We know if we win the coastal, good things will happen. That's what we're focused on and that's what we're going to do.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Raphael. Brad Kaaya is on the podium. Questions for Brad.

Q. Brad, pretty decent rookie season for you last year. What do you have in mind for an encore?
BRAD KAAYA: For me it's inspiring my teammates who play around me. I recognize it was a good freshman year, I got some awards, that was cool. It's just about having that same momentum for this coming season, just getting the young guys around me, all the guys who redshirted, getting all those guys to play around me. It isn't just my show, it's not just the Brad Kaaya show. It's going to take the offense, defense, special teams, all that. Just inspiring those guys to play hard and knowing that everyone is a factor.

Q. Brad, you put up some phenomenal numbers last year, especially for a first year. The offense put up some phenomenal numbers. Most of the guys that helped you put up those numbers are in the NFL. Do we make too much of that in the media? Is the transition from the guys that played last year to this year smaller than we think it is or does it take some getting used to?
BRAD KAAYA: If you think about it, all those guys, the media looks and says, They're leaving, that's going to leave a hole for this team. Those guys were once freshmen and sophomore. No one knew who Clive Walford was at one point. No one knew who Phil Dorset or Duke Johnson were at one point. Obviously, they were big recruits, but they weren't really game proven. I feel like we have a lot of guys right now who have stepped up in this off-season. Like I said before in interviews, the NFL and college football is different. In the NFL, if you lose your franchise players, your eight-year veteran guys, a lot of teams have issues adjusting. For us, I feel like the guys who stepped up, they have incredible work ethics, they've all bought into our mantra, all the things we're trying to get accomplished. I feel like with the personnel we have coming up, we can do a variety of things offensively and defensively.

Q. What is the Florida State/Miami rivalry like from your perspective?
BRAD KAAYA: It's one of the biggest rivalries in college football. I have mutual respect for all those guys. I'm sure they have the same for us. It's a game we're always going to circle on our schedule. Even though our goal is to win the coastal, we realize Florida State is a big game for us. I'm sure it's a big game for you guys, too.

Q. Brad, can you speak to the depth and the quality of the quarterback position across the league. A lot of guys returning that have played a lot of snaps, experienced guys.
BRAD KAAYA: It should be exciting to see how things turn out. Quarterback play is essential to every single team. As long as there's good quarterback play in our conference, I think that's going to make the conference pretty exciting, some good matchups. Look around the room, I'm sure all these schools have returning starting quarterbacks, guys who started a significant amount of games. I know Deshaun pretty well. He's phenomenal. Everett just transferred into FSU. I talk to Reggie a lot. I talk to NC State, what's his name, Jacoby, I talk to him, pretty cool guy. I talk to Hunt at Syracuse. All these coastal quarterbacks I know pretty well. Should be exciting and pretty interesting. See how it shakes out.

Q. You brought up Duke Johnson. What can you say after him what you see from the backfield, how they can help you this season?
BRAD KAAYA: Yeah, right now that runningback room has a lot of competition going on. Like I say, competition makes everyone great. Several of those guys have stepped up. Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards, he's been a workhorse all off-season. From last year to this year he's matured a lot more. Mark Walton just came in, he's a freshman out of Miami. He's a great kid. He already gets it, from day one, like from the time he stepped in there. Even when he was getting recruited, when he committed here, he gets it. He's a different mentality. He just knows what's going on, knows the protections already, all that stuff. One guy who has made significant strides is Trayone Gray, Chalk we call him. This off-season has been huge for him. He had a few issues several months ago. At the end of the season, he had some issues with class and all that. He's really cleaned his act up. He hasn't been on any lists. He's been going to class, doing all the things he needs to do, taking care of business. The strength, coaches see it. Our head coach see it. Our position coaches see it. He's going to be a surprise player this year.

Q. How much of a difference does the full cost of attendance make to a player like you?
BRAD KAAYA: It's huge for guys coming from far away. A lot of it gets factored into our stipend checks, our rent checks. It's good to have an extra flight home. A kid like me coming across the country, kids who have gone other places before far from home, it's good to have that extra flight ticket home, see your family, go to a bowl game, fly them out for a game, it's really helpful.

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