Measurements: Six foot four, 214 pounds
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
High School: Attended Chaminade College Prep in West Hills, California, where he led the school to the California Division II state championship in 2013.
In his freshman year, the expectations for Brad Kaaya were modest at best. He was not an early enrollee with the Miami Hurricanes, instead choosing to enjoy his senior year of high school on the west coast. Kaaya studied the playbook over on the west coast while the Miami football program looked for its new starting quarterback.
Kaaya came into summer camp looking to take the position from the upperclassmen. It was a shock when he was named as the week one starter against Louisville. There were obvious growing pains for Miami throughout the season, but the Hurricanes had found their quarterback. Kaaya would pass for 3,198 yards with a completion percentage of 58.5, adding 26 passing touchdowns. Kaaya breaking the freshman passing record with 342 yards against Arkansas State was a highlight of the season. Miami would have the second-highest yards per pass attempt in the ACC (8.3), behind Georgia Tech. Consequently, Kaaya was recognized as the ACC Rookie of the Year and the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
This great freshman season caused the pressure to increase for Kaaya in his second year. The Hurricanes’ offense lost three playmakers—RB Duke Johnson, WR Phillip Dorsett, and TE Clive Walford. Despite these losses, Kaaya piloted an improving offense. The 2015 season saw Kaaya pass for 3,298 yards with a completion percentage of 61.8, 16 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions. In one of his best games of the season, against hated rival Florida State in Doak Campbell Stadium, Kaaya threw for 405 passing yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Kaaya would finish the season second to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in total yards and passing yards per game.
Miami underwent a coaching change during the 2015 season. Al Golden was fired after an embarrassing loss to Clemson. The other members of his staff were relieved of duty in the off-season. Throughout this turmoil, Kaaya—the face of the program—carried himself with a level head, providing stability for his teammates and fanbase during this tumultuous stretch.
When Mark Richt was named head coach at the University of Miami, it appeared that Kaaya would immediately benefit, based on the coach’s track record with past quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray. Kaaya put together a stellar campaign in his junior season, posting career bests in passing yards (3,532), completion percentage (62%), and yards per attempt (8.2). He also served up 27 passing touchdowns against 7 interceptions. During the season, Kaaya would become Miami’s all-time passing leader with 9,968 yards. The win over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl is the highlight game of the season: he passed for four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 70.6 percent completion rate.
With so much accomplished since his arrival at Coral Gables, Kaaya faced a difficult decision: stay for his senior year, or enter the draft. Kaaya would ultimately choose to enter the draft, opting to seek a new challenge at football’s highest level of competition.
Kaaya was among nine Hurricanes invited to the NFL’s National Scouting Combine. Opting not to participate in the 40-yard dash and bench press, Kaaya instead showcased his excellent footwork and accuracy on short-to-intermediate routes in the passing portion of the day. Scouts and recruiters took notice, and the positive vibes continued at the end of March when Miami held their Pro Day.
Film to Watch
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Miami Hurricanes, November 05, 2016
Kaaya passed for 356 yards with a completion percentage of 68.1 percent, adding 5 touchdowns (4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD)
- His mother, Angela Means, is an actress best known for her role as Felisha from the movie Friday. She also appeared on In Living Color and in House Party 3.
- He lost a tooth in the first half of the game against Florida State in 2016.
- He grew up a Raiders fan.
- He will be 22 years old by opening week of the 2017 NFL regular season.
“Strong understanding of touch and trajectory downfield, fitting the ball between levels of the defense. Unforced throwing motion with the arm strength to make all the necessary NFL throws. Displays crisp zip on outs, slants and dig routes.”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
“Expedites release and throws to an area in front of the route when blitz is closing in. Always looking to throw past sticks on third down. Understands his arm limitations and rarely takes unnecessary chances throwing into space.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
“Under Mark Richt in 2016, he improved despite playing behind a leaky offensive line and in a new system. Kaaya’s football IQ is off-the-charts good. He understands concepts, coverages and blocking assignments.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
Brad Kaaya is the quarterback who has been overlooked during the draft process. He plays the position very well, and even though he needs to work on handling pressure in the pocket, he has the arm to make NFL-level throws and the accuracy to fit the ball in smaller passing windows. Kaaya has dealt with porous offensive line play during his career, but he has improved his numbers every season. While Kaaya still needs to develop parts of his game, it is highly possible that he’ll become a valuable quarterback after he acclimates to the NFL.