I’ll get right into it, yes, you read the title correctly. Throughout this week on SB Nation, we’re talking about underdogs and underrated players, and I think one of the most underrated players in the history of the Miami Hurricanes was quarterback Brad Kaaya.
For some reason or another, and I see it on social media all the time, people don’t give Kaaya the respect he deserves. Imagine, the all-time leading passer for Miami, and he still has people calling him an average or even trash quarterback.
I think some of you are confusing Kaaya not being good tonight with him not being good ever. Like, this isn't Playstation.— Señor Wilhelm XI (@MrBill11) September 2, 2014
This is the case with a lot of Miami players throughout the past 15 years or so. The Hurricanes have had some phenomenal players come through Coral Gables in recent memory, but many of them don’t receive enough praise, simply for the fact that the program has been borderline mediocre for more than a decade.
Kaaya falls into that category, and I won't let it stand anymore.
When you’re at a school that has won five national championships with five different quarterbacks, you’re going to be looked down upon if you didn’t bring home a title, which is completely and utterly ridiculous. You’ll also be judged as a quarterback with how you played against FSU, and how many times you beat FSU.
Brock Berlin never lost to FSU or UF. Send me your Kaaya mock drafts— Mike Ryan (Ruiz) (@MichaelRyanRuiz) October 9, 2016
No, he did not beat FSU during his three years at Miami, but don't you dare put the blame on him. His first year, as a true freshman in 2014, Kaaya nearly led the Canes to an upset win over the reigning national champion and undefeated Seminoles. Throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, Kaaya and Miami were up 23-7 at one point during that game.
People started dogging Brad Kaaya, and many were FSU fans. Kaaya never beat them, he lost by 5 points or less three times against them— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) April 12, 2017
However, the Canes defense wasn’t able to hold the lead, and Karlos Williams for FSU caught a touchdown pass that was tipped into his hands by some miracle, and UM fell 30-26. On a night where Kaaya outplayed Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, it wasn’t enough to win.
The next year in Tallahassee, Kaaya brought the Canes back in the second half, and put Miami in front with a touchdown pass to Stacy Coley in the fourth quarter. Though, the defense could do nothing against running back Dalvin Cook, and Miami lost another heartbreaker to the Noles 29-24. Kaaya threw for over 400 yards that night, with four touchdowns and zero interceptions, one of the greatest performances in the rivalry’s history by a quarterback.
Finally, in 2016, Kaaya drove the Hurricanes down the field in the final minutes, hitting Coley again for a touchdown on 4th down, but a blocked extra-point denied the win for Miami. In three meetings against FSU, Kaaya averaged 311 passing yards per game, threw eight touchdowns, but lost each time by five points or less.
On the myth of Kaaya struggling vs. FSU — essentially only Tebow posted clearly better stats last 10 yrs vs Noles… pic.twitter.com/uhl1B3bDdR— Hi, I’m David (@ADavidHaleJoint) April 30, 2017
Kaaya didn’t have the luxury that quarterbacks like Malik Rosier had, where you can go 19-44 passing and still beat Florida State. Or Brock Berlin, who threw three interceptions, but thanks to Sean Taylor, they were still able to beat Florida State.
Brad Kaaya averaging 360.5 yds vs Seminoles in his career. Highest rate by any QB that faced FSU at least twice over the last 10 seasons.— Jorge Sedano (@Sedano) October 8, 2016
It wasn’t even the games against Florida State. Let’s go back to the 2014 season, where Kaaya puts up 359 yards at Nebraska. What happens if Duke Johnson doesn’t fumble in the third quarter, a fumble that the Cornhuskers picked up and ran all the way for a touchdown?
He definitely wasn’t perfect, nobody is saying that. Like all college quarterbacks, Kaaya made mistakes, and even had the occasional rocky game.
Though, in an era where Miami has had little luck with their quarterbacks, Kyle Wright, Kirby Freeman, just to name a few, Kaaya was the best QB we saw at UM since Ken Dorsey left. He rarely threw interceptions and was accurate, two things that most post-2004 Miami quarterbacks haven’t been able to do.
Love Brad Kaaya and not having a great defense ruined his legacy. He was solid and he just had horrible coaches. He had "Al Golden". In pass protection, the O-line was trash. https://t.co/43FTgMDGwq— GASUCKA4REE ❎ (@Ga30Ga) September 1, 2019
And for his first two years, Kaaya was solid even with a horrific offensive line (all 3 years), horrendous defense, and Al Golden as head coach.
Kaaya, the best QB in the ACC, bails out Golden. Unthinkable to run twice there.— CanesInSight (@CanesInSight) October 17, 2015
Along with having little success at QB, Miami also hadn’t won a bowl game since 2006. The quarterback who broke that streak for the Hurricanes? Kaaya. In his final game at Miami in 2016, Kaaya torched West Virginia, throwing for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns, as the Hurricanes won 30-14.
That 2016 season for Kaaya was his finest at Miami, as he ended the year with over 3,500 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Only two quarterbacks in Miami history have thrown for more TD’s in a season, and only one has thrown for more yards in a season.
Kaaya left after his junior year, having rewrote the history books for Hurricanes quarterbacks, throwing for a school record 9.968 passing yards, and is second all-time for touchdown passes at Miami with 71, and he did it all in three seasons.
Say what you will about Kaaya, that he didn’t beat Florida State or win a national championship, but you can’t measure the success of a quarterback by rings. In my book, Kaaya isn't just underrated, but I believe he’s one of the best pure QB’s to ever come through Miami.