Brad Kaaya won the starting role from a handful of prospects. Brad Kaaya, of West Hills, California, goes through some drills during the morning session of last year’s Elite 11 at Nike World Headquarters. Kaaya won the job as starting quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes to start the 2014 season. (Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports).
(C+P) — Meet Brad Kaaya. He’s the true freshman quarterback who Miami coach Al Golden named as his starter for the 2014 Labor Day season opener at Louisville. It’s a bold move especially considering the added importance of the game, which also opens the ACC season as well. And it comes up just five days after Kaaya’s 19th birthday. Just three months ago the 6-foot-4, 210-pound pocket passer from West Hills, California, left Chaminade College Prep where he carried a GPA of nearly 4.0. That level of intelligence and maturity played key factors in the decision-making process for offensive coordinator James Coley in tagging Kaaya as the Hurricanes’ starter.
The 4-star recruit, who threw for nearly 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and a state championship in his senior season at Chaminade, nudged out senior transfer Jake Heaps for the starting role and he tweeted out his thanks to all who believed in him; “Appreciate the support from everyone. Ready to attack week 1 with my brothers! #1Heartbeat.” He knows how to win. Kaaya was 23-3 as a high school starter. His abilities as a leader and a winner are characteristics that attracted schools like UCLA, USC, Stanford and Boise State. But he chose Miami, the first to offer, and has obliged the program by working his way into a leadership role as the Hurricanes look to build on last season’s 9-4 mark. The door was opened for Kaaya when last year’s starter Stephen Morris , who was waived on Friday by the Jacksonville Jaguars but remains on their practice squad, graduated and heir-apparent and fifth-year senior Ryan Williams went down with a knee injury in the spring. That left Kaaya, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, and Heaps to battle it out for the starting spot. Heaps started 25 games while at BYU and Kansas and conventional thinking had the experienced signal-caller taking the reins. But it was Kaaya who vaulted to the top of the depth chart to become the first Miami freshman to start at quarterback since Jacory Harris in 2008. What you might not know about Kaaya – His mom, Angela Means Kaaya, is the actress who popularized the catch phrase, “Bye, Felicia” in the 1995 movie “Friday.” She stopped acting shortly after his birth and had designs on making Brad an actor. But after several auditions at an early age, it was clear that her son’s star would shine on the football field.