Following a battle that stretched throughout the last several months, true freshman Brad Kaaya has been named the starting quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes. Kaaya beat out senior transfer Jake Heaps for the position.
Miami coach Al Golden spoke about the decision to put Kaaya under center for the season opener, per The Associated Press (via ESPN):
As I told him, he's our quarterback. He's not a freshman quarterback. He's the University of Miami quarterback. [...]
It was a tight battle. It was a battle that none of us could have foresaw at the end of June or the beginning of July or maybe even the beginning of camp. I'm excited about that position. ... But right now, Brad nudged out Jake, and he's our quarterback.
Kaaya came to Miami as a 4-star prospect and the seventh-best pro-style quarterback in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and he immediately made an impact. The West Hills, California, native arrived on campus in May and took over the starting job in a matter of months.
In the final season of his high school career, Kaaya registered 3,853 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, six interceptions and a rushing score. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports offers his take on the freshman:
The decision might come as a surprise with Golden even admitting no one could have predicted this result. But after a strong showing in camp, a lot will be expected of the young signal-caller.
As for Kaaya's actual opponent in the season opener, he will have to take on Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville's first game as an ACC program. With the matchup coming on Monday, Sept. 1, all eyes will be on Kaaya to see how he responds.
If Kaaya can get past the Cardinals, he will have a couple of weaker opponents to build his confidence in Florida A&M and Arkansas State, both home games for Miami. But with Nebraska and a tough slate against schools like Duke, North Carolina and Florida State on the schedule, Kaaya's job will not be easy.
After finishing 9-4 last season, Kaaya takes over a program that is trending in the right direction. But in order to keep ascending, the 'Canes will have to rely on the young quarterback to shine after the departure of Stephen Morris.
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