In the Fall of 2013, Brad Kaaya was not a nationally recognized top tier quarterback. At that time, Kaaya was a high school senior; and despite his ESPN 300 ranking, many did not expect Kaaya to be an immediate star out of Chaminade College Preparatory school. Miami felt like they had a gem in the making, but his talents were still in the shadow of the national spotlight.
Flash forward to the Spring of 2016; and fans, analysts, and scouts across the nation know his name.
"He’s a guy, certainly, who’s been to war not only for one year, but two years," Richt said earlier this March. "He understands the league. He understands the competition. Now we’ve just got to teach him what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it."
And if the past is any indication, Kaaya can adjust quickly to a new system. Kaaya became the starting quarterback at The University of Miami as a true freshman. And despite being at a disadvantage not having played in the Spring, he outperformed team veterans.
Kaaya not only played well out of the gates for Miami, but threw to the tune of over 3000 yards and won ACC Freshman of the year in 2014. He became the quarterback Miami had been begging for since Ken Dorsey. He gave the Hurricanes a talent to be recognized nationwide.
Kaaya burst into the spotlight his freshman year, and in his sophomore season he cemented himself as one of the nation's best quarterbacks. Against a difficult schedule which included the likes of Clemson and Florida State, Kaaya threw only five interceptions (7 less than his freshman season) and boasted a 61% completion percentage.
Kaaya is well-aware that he is part of a lineage of greatness, and is influenced by Miami greats who still maintain a presence and support the program by attending events such as the Spring game.
"I sit next to George Mira, number 10," Kaaya said after the Spring game while speaking of Miami greats. "Things like that have an impact on me, as a guy who is going through the process, and seeing a guy who, he is in the hall of fame, he has been an All American, and he has played in the NFL. Just seeing that, it motivates me."
And as Kaaya embarks on one of the most crucial years of his career, he is set to continue the path to NFL greatness. With the 2016 NFL draft now in the books, multiple websites have released mock drafts for 2017. Nearly all of which have come to a similar consensus regarding Brad Kaaya; he is a top 10 pick.
With known quarterback guru Mark Richt now taking at the helm in Miami, Kaaya should only get better. Unlike fellow top five projected pick Deshaun Watson, Kaaya has played in a pro-style scheme at Miami, and is now being developed by a pro style coach. Right has a history of coaching top tier quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, and helped make fourth round pick Chris Weinke a Heisman trophy winner during his time at Florida State.
Kaaya simply fits the mold of an elite quarterback, due to his intangibles and experience. Kaaya stands tall at 6-4, and has developed into a strong armed 210 pound gunslinger. In comparison, 2016 number 1 pick Jared Goff stands at 6-4 as well, and weighs 215 pounds, only five more than Brad Kaaya. Many might not look at Kaaya as the number 1 pick due to his team's constant mediocrity under Al Golden, but one must take a look at Jared Goff's resume before assuming it will hurt his stock.
Goff threw 8 more interceptions than Kaaya in 2016, and ended up leading the team towards an 8-5 season; the same record as Miami's in 2015 during Brad Kaaya's sophomore season. Over time, it has been proven that being a quarterback on an elite team doesn't necessarily mean being a high draft pick, and after a year in which an 8 win quarterback went number one and an FCS quarterback went number two, anything can happen.
Kaaya fits the mold of a top pick at quarterback, and while he has a lot to prove in 2016, he certainly is worthy of the hype he is receiving this offseason.