As the word spread on Brad Kaaya in the spring, it was the University of Miami that came calling first and with the most vigor. They liked what they saw and immediately offered him a scholarship. It didn't take long for Kaaya to commit to the Hurricanes.
He is on track to become the latest in a long line of quarterbacks from the “Golden State” to sling the leather in Coral Gables, following the likes of Gino and Geoff Toretta, Scott Covington, Ken Dorsey and Kyle Wright.
There would be no prolonged sales pitch needed here. They had Kaaya at “hello.”
"Miami came after me first before a lot of schools came at me hard," explained the senior-to-be at Chaminade College Prep in West Hills, California. "Coach (James) Coley, he saw me, he liked me, he saw my talent and he made the offer early. He wasn't holding back anything, he wasn't hesitating. He knows what he wants in a quarterback and it was real with him. It was all genuine. Like we were talking about with Rudy (Carpenter), Coach Coley doesn't sugarcoat anything. He's a real guy. So is Coach (Al) Golden, they're all genuine people; one of the most genuine coaching staffs I've met in this process."
And don't look for any recruiting games or any dalliances with any other programs moving forward. His father, Brad Sr. said to CanesInSight.com back in early June, "For me, because Brad made a commitment, what's the point of the word 'commitment' if you're not committed? So unless something really, really strange happens - that I can't even imagine - Brad is strongly committed to Miami."
The son adds, "We talked about this many times and we just came down to it that there's no reason to say one thing and do another. When I'm pledging myself as a commit; I'm letting them know I'm going to be playing football there and attending school at the University of Miami. I have no intent to use this commitment as a way to mingle with other programs."
The Kaaya's believed that they would land a college scholarship somewhere, they never actually thought it would be at Miami.
"I didn't," the father admitted. "It's as far as cross-country as you can get. I really thought because his mom was from the Midwest, she's actually from Michigan and he liked the idea of Michigan. I thought the Midwest would actually happen for him. The Big10, pro-style play, that I thought would work out for him. But I really didn't think about Miami. I grew up watching Miami in the 80's, I was in high school. In the 90's in college, I thought Miami was awesome. But it was far away, I didn't think about it. So when coach Coley reached out to Brad the first time, or they started sending him some recruiting information, I was excited - it was 'the U.'”
"It doesn't get much better for a guy that's 46 years old and talking about 'the U' for his kid."
It's been a whirlwind experience for this family.
"Absolutely," said Kaaya Sr. "Seeing him grow up as a just a little boy in diapers that I tried to make a golfer to a bigger little boy. All he wanted to do was play football and had dreams of playing in the NFL and here he is with the chance to play in college. It's just really exciting for the family but especially for him, obviously."
According to the elder Kaaya, his son had a proclivity for throwing early on. "When he was a little baby in diapers I would run away from him and let him try to hit me in the head with a football. So I knew he could throw the ball well." The first positions he ever played in organized football were fullback and defensive end. But soon he was under center, according to Kaaya Sr,"because he was one of the kids that could remember the plays."
Kaaya has been at the campus at Coral Gables a couple of times (http://www.canesinsight.com/content/...-Sunday-s-camp
), he says of the surroundings, "The campus itself, it's a little more laid back then what you'd imagine. It feels like Southern California. Coral Gables itself isn't really a crazy area. It's pretty calm, a lot of people there. You expect to see superstars walking around with gold chains but no, Coral Gables, I just like the whole feeling. It really fit me well. The city of Miami it's all over the place. It's a great place and Coral Gables I felt, really fit me."
A big factor in Kaaya being a Hurricane is the coaching staff led by Al Golden, who is putting together a monster class for 2014.
"Golden seems like a CEO, he just seems like a guy that would be very successful in a lot of different businesses," said Kaaya Sr, who runs a successful line of hair care products with his wife. "He's smart but he's not a complete micro-manager that's going to drive anybody crazy and he's the kind of guy that carries himself in a way that I'd love my son to be exposed to because I want my son to be that type of personality when he's an adult."
He added, "That was one of the things, I didn't want to send him all the way across the country if he didn't have a real quality coaching staff there in place and if he didn't have a high-level educational system like Miami. If he's going to go that far, he's got to like the school, he's got to like the people. So Golden and Coley are those kind of people I want him around. Miami is a great university that I'd want him going to even if he weren't playing football. I'm more than happy that he's there because I know I'm not going to be at every game even if I wanted to be."
In an era when recruiting is covered year-round and in the age of social media, Kaaya is now a bit of a celebrity. The days of high school players quietly going about their seasons and living everyday lives as normal teenagers is no longer. Google his name and you'll see that he isn't your average kid who can live in anonymity. He understands that his life has changed.
Kaaya concedes, "It's definitely changed a little bit, a lot of things I do are under a microscope. I have to watch what I say in public, watch what I saw in interviews, watch what I tweet or post in my Facebook. I can't post anything crazy or say anything negative."
You mean like go all “Johnny Football?”
"Yeah, definitely," he says, laughing at the thought. (By the way, his Twitter account is @TrinidadBrad)."A lot of things are definitely ridiculed in that sense if I were to say something questionable. So I have to really watch how I carry myself and conduct myself."
After participating in 'the Opening' in Oregon and being named to the Elite 11 in July, Kaaya now focuses in on his senior campaign at Chaminade. But his mind is always on the future, which is why he has gone out of his way to become acquainted with other future Hurricanes. He makes it clear that as a quarterback, it's part of his responsibility to actively recruit for this program.
"To me, it's just great fun getting to know these guys from other places and guys I might be playing with in the next couple of years. I already feel that camaraderie, especially with the receivers that might possibly commit. It's definitely nice to already build that relationship and also, these are guys that I really want to get and the better I make people around me; the better I look. So I'm just working as hard as I can to help recruit," said Kaaya, who's mother has been active on Twitter in reaching out to other blue-chippers across the country.
Back in June, Kaaya mentioned that he was in consistent contact with the likes of Daniel Gresham, Demetriux Knox and Johnnie Dixon. As you see his Twitter feed, you see dialogue with other 'Cane commits.
"Anyone that we need, I'm trying to get because I want my team to be good," he states. "My teammates make me look good; I'm not in it all for myself. I'm not a guy who's going to commit and just say, 'OK, I'm committed, I'm fine. Now, let me go do me.' I'm trying to make this team win.
"I want this team to be great."
So just what type of quarterback is Miami getting in Kaaya?
According to his personal coach, Rudy Carpenter( http://www.canesinsight.com/content/...r-by-Steve-Kim
),"I think they're getting a really good quarterback. Big, 6'4, and I think by the time he gets on Miami's campus he'll be about 225-pounds. He's a big strong-armed kid that can stand back and throw the ball. I think he's very similar to the kid they have there now, Stephen Morris."
Carpenter has also compared Kaaya favorably to the likes of the Super Bowl winning Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Josh Freeman (who he happened to back-up for a couple of seasons in Tampa Bay).
As for how Kaaya describes himself: "I'm always in the game, I'm always fired up. I'm always in it; I'm always making checks at the line. I'm not afraid to audible or change a play up. I'm definitely going to put the ball on the money and do it all, fast, too. I don't get sacked a lot."
Should be an interesting couple of years on Greentree as he battles Kevin Olsen.