Brad Kaaya threw for a Miami Hurricanes school record 9,968 passing yards and finished second all-time for touchdown passes at Miami with 71. Remarkably Kaaya accomplished that feat in only three seasons.
The Hurricanes were floundering in its own bowl win drought ineptitude. 10 long years in derelict destitution until Kaaya navigated the ship to an impressive Russel Athletic Bowl win. The junior quarterback was dominant in that performance and suddenly a ray of sunshine seamed to permeate through the program.
Kaaya’s last game as a Hurricane saw him amass close to 300 yards passing including four touchdowns as the Hurricanes beat the West Virginia Mountaineers convincingly 30-14.
You know the backstory. You know how Kaaya’s career ended. 5-0 with a bowl win. You just did not know definitively if he would declare for the NFL draft after his junior year. But a changing of the guard impacted the Gables and in an instantaneous flash the Brad Kaaya era was over.
Miami would usher the next season with Malik Rosier under center and start the season 10-0. But let’s not forget during that brief national surge to the college football center consciousness, Miami had a 15 game winning streak. Five of those wins were with Kaaya.
Rosier should and rightfully get the credit for his junior campaign and the miraculously wild ride that ensued. But you still can hypothesize your opinion around the question if a senior Brad Kaaya would have returned, would the Miami Hurricanes have even been more successful?
I recently had the opportunity in the midst of this “What if” series brought to you by State of The U to catch up with Brad and ask him this very question. I will tell you first hand that Kaaya never regrets the decision to leave. He appreciated his time at Miami but was looking forward to the new chapter of his life.
So going into the interview I knew the answer to the question but I still loved his response when I asked him anyway, “What if you came back your senior year?” His response was a perfect meme that reflects his mature ownership of the moment wrapped in his innate sense of humor and quick wit. You either die a hero....or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
“After experiencing the NFL, what offensive play style did you play against or play under that you would have liked to operate under your senior year?” “I’d say any scheme that stemmed from Dungy/Tom Moore coaching tree. Jim Caldwell, Gase, etc. A system that gave full control to the QB. Had a system of hots/sights/protections and kept the QB clean and got the ball out fast.”
“Do you like new Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s system and would you have been excited to play for that style of uptempo spread in college?” “It’s exciting but as a fan base (including myself) we all get excited anytime there’s a new sheriff in town. I won’t get my hopes (up) yet until I see the on field product but giving south Florida kids a chance to do the things they were brought up doing, stretching the field in all directions at a very fast pace, certainly seems conducive to our success.”
“Further thoughts on Lashlee?” “I think in today’s modern era football, a guy like Lashlee can be a QB’s best friend and giving the QB a chance to get rid of the ball quickly and efficiently will also limit negative plays. If you look at the amount of sacks, they’ve incrementally gone up since 2016.”
We also asked this “what if” question on the last episode of the Orange Bowl Boys podcast. Check out the boys response in this quick video snippet.