The rumors have been rampant withover the past few months with speculation that he was not solid on his commitment to Miami. Although he never gave an indication that he was wavering, his official visit to Miami over the weekend solidified his commitment more than ever.
“I’m all set. I’m still visiting Boise State just because I feel like I’ve earned the right to do that and take these free trips that they give you, but I’m set with Miami. The coaches and everything about this team are the perfect fit. There’s not a better setup for myself than Miami,” said Kaaya.
These last few weeks have been eventful for the California product between winning a state championship, playing in the Semper Fi All-American game, and taking his official visit to Coral Gables.
“It started out with the playoffs and state championship against a top 10 team in the nation. Then with the world of recruiting and ESPN rankings, everything has changed with that. A lot more coaches have been hitting me up too.”
Kaaya was not immune to the talk of Al Golden and Penn State a few weeks back. Were all of his concerns cleared up over the last couple of days?
“Definitely. Going in, I was pretty concerned about Coach Golden during the whole period with him and Penn State. A lot of coaches hit me up out of the blue when that happened and tried to use it as a recruiting point. They would say ‘Oh, Golden’s leaving so are you going to decommit now?’ or ‘He’s committed to the program, huh?’ My mom and I asked him straight up if he was committed to Miami and he gave us straightforward answers. Just about every question was answered.”
Kaaya has been to Miami before on an unofficial basis, but this trip was about getting more comfortable with his surroundings.
“I just got to see it more in-depth, not just the school but Coral Gables in general. I feel like it helped me getting out with the team alone without my mom or dad there.”
The fact that the four-star QB will be enrolling in Miami in a matter of months is starting to hit him.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking that I have to leave where I live, but I talk to Coach Coley and Carroll about that a lot. Miami and LA are still both big cities, but of course they are completely different. All of my coaches will make the transition easy for me.”
Probably the most important figure in the process for Kaaya besides himself has been his mother, Angela. She had the opportunity to meet with University of Miami President Donna Shalala.
“For her, everything was cleared up and every question was answered. She got to sit down with President Shalala alone and talk to her and clear up all the red flags for her. It’s not something she really worries about since she knows I’ll be in the best hands possible.”
A big step for Kaaya this weekend was interacting with some of his future teammates.
“Stacy (Coley) is a real cool guy and we bonded really well. I was with Standish (Dobard) the tight end for a while and , Corn (Elder), Jamal (Carter), Artie (Burns). I hit up Braxton (Berrios) and Joe (Yearby) but they really couldn't hang out because of their injuries and Braxton just got his surgery. Kc (McDermott) actually hosted me so I got to kick it with him and Trevor (Darling).”
Kaaya’s future school has recently applied a lot of attention to his current teammate, , who Kaaya will have an influence on as he prepares to make his decision.
“Of course it will be different for him but the transition won’t be hard, it will just be different. He grew up in Canada so I’m sure he’s a little nervous about it and it’s a completely different state, but football is football and great coaches will be coaching him. He tells me all the time that he wants to play with me at the next level and that’s the biggest thing for him. He said if I’m at Miami then he wants to be at Miami.”
What kind of weapon would the offense at Miami be getting in Lenius?
“His versatility is great. I’m sure he’ll grow more because he just turned 17 and he’s 6-5 almost 220 pounds. The coaches think he can grow into an H or a wide out and he’s tall so he will go get the ball. He has really long strides and covers a lot of ground. A lot of times I can just put it out there for him and he can go get it. People say he looks slow on film, but he really just takes long strides.”
Miami fans may continue to worry about Kaaya’s commitment until signing day as “recruiting experts” around the country predict him to wind up at a school on the West Coast, but he seems pretty sure about his choice.
“For me, there couldn’t be more of a perfect picture set for me. They will give me the chance to compete for a national title and go into a situation where everything isn’t biscuits and gravy like Alabama or these SEC schools that are winning championship after championship. Just going into it with this staff is a great opportunity for me and there’s no other place I’d rather work for it at than Miami.”