Chaminade Prep head coach Ed Croson, Brad Kaaya’s head coach in high school, thinks his star pupil has all the tools to handle the intense scrutiny being the starting quarterback at the University of Miami brings. Not everyone that’s ever been under center in Coral Gables has had as many tools mentally and physically as Kaaya, Miami’s true freshman starting quarterback. Luckily for him, the talent that’s been stockpiled around him means he doesn’t have to come in and be the savior of the offense, which will allow for a smoother development.
“I don’t think any college coach wants to use a true freshman at any position, much less quarterback, if they can help it. But if anybody can handle it, it’s Brad. He’s a lot more mature than most kids his age, and he was like that with us, even as a junior. He’s a solid guy that’s ahead of the curve. He has great mechanics, he’s a conscientious learner, he can read coverages and make good decisions in a timely matter,” Croson told CaneInsider. “There’s going to be a learning curve. Fortunately, Miami has some weapons around him that he won’t have to come in and win games on his own. At the same time, he’s got a lot going for him, emotionally and physically. He’s as ready as he ever will be.”
Croson shared that he and Kaaya have spoken since Miami head coach Al Golden announced him as the starting quarterback.
“I talked to him a few days ago. We spoke about when quarterbacks get too much credit when things go good and bad. I told him that he’s got to take this period with a grain of salt because he hasn’t done anything yet. There will be rocky times, everything won’t go perfectly all the time.”
Most would expect a true freshman quarterback to not be able to handle the big stage of starting his first ever collegiate game on a Monday night with millions of viewers tuning in, in front of probably the loudest and most hostile environment he’s experienced to date in his young career. Croson pointed out that Kaaya is no stranger to television or media, due to the recent success of the Chaminade program.
“Brad played in 14 games his junior year and 16 games his senior season, and we were on TV 16 times during those two years, so it’s not like he hasn’t seen this stage before. I know it’s not college, but he’s used to being interviewed and being in the spotlight. For his age, he’s been exposed to the types of things he’ll see at Miami.”
Coach Croson is confident about Kaaya’s ability to pilot UM’s offense, and cautiously optimistic about Labor Day night.
“He finds his second and third receivers as well as anyone, and he doesn’t get rattled in the pocket. Hopefully he’s already learned to ignore the distractions and focus on the task at hand. I remember when I played at Utah, the noise and the crowd was like… I remember running out onto the field and it felt like my feet weren’t hitting the ground. He hasn’t been through that yet.”
Chaminade’s head coach shared how he would attack Kaaya if he was Louisville’s defensive coordinator.
“If I was facing a true freshman quarterback, I’d try to confuse him by disguising coverages. At Chaminade, we run a very similar defense [that UM does] with lots of different coverages. Everyday in practice, we threw a lot at Brad, bringing guys in from different directions and giving different looks,” Croson said. “If nothing else, I hope he can go one, two, three, throw it away. He’s been exposed to that type of attack and it’s already translating onto the field for him.”
Would it be a surprise to Croson to see a quarterback rotation Monday night?
“I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be. I can’t imagine Miami not using [Jake] Heaps at least some or unless Brad just went off. Hopefully Brad does his job well enough to win.”
— Michael Bradley