Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya turned down Pac-12 schools close to home, including UCLA, to play for upstart Miami.
But first, he’ll take on Oaks Christian in the FOX Sports West Game of the Week tonight vs. Oaks Christian at 7 p.m.
Here are 10 things to know about Kaaya:
He’s all in at The U
Miami has flavor, flair and a pro-style offense. The school, the city and most importantly the football program just felt like a natural fit for the signal caller.
“Just everything about it,” Kaaya said. “The whole area, the atmosphere. The fan base is probably one of the best fan bases in sports, they have fans all over the world.”
Kaaya felt that head coach Al Golden’s staff was genuine during his recruitment and he felt a comfort and familiarity with their up-tempo passing scheme.
“They do a lot of things that I do at Chaminade already,” Kaaya said. “I felt like I could just fit right in.”
There is, however, one thing that he’s not looking forward to: humidity.
“That’s something that will definitely take some getting used to.” He always knew the ‘Canes would come back
The U jumped back into the rankings this season and made a big jump after upsetting in-state rival Florida during Week 1. It didn’t validate anything for Kaaya, who committed early in his recruitment, because he knew the Hurricanes would always get back to where they used to be.
“I had a weird feeling that they would eventually rise back,” Kaaya said. “I’m not going to say that they’re there already but I think they’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
The ‘Canes are coming for the King
Now that the program is back on track, Kaaya is hoping they can attract some local Miami celebrities to Sun Life Stadium, starting with Miami’s most famous resident, LeBron James.
“If he hasn’t already, I’m sure I’d be able to get him to come,” Kaaya said.
But in case King James is waiting for The U to be fully back on track, Kaaya would settle for one of their most prominent alums.
“Maybe the Rock,” Kaaya said. “I know he went there.”
He’ll miss the California way
Showing that Kaaya is a West Coast kid through-and-through, me mentioned one particular postgame tradition that he will miss the most when he makes Miami home next season.
“In-n-Out, that’s what I’ll miss the most,” Kaaya said. “That’s what I get after every game. It’s a California thing.”
He’d like to see football in the Outback
American football is now being played beyond American borders with the NFL playing select games in London every season and high school teams getting in the action with games in the United Kingdom as well. But Kaaya would like to see football in Australia.
“I’ve always wanted to travel there, it’s interesting. Like maybe play in the Outback,” Kaaya said. “They also shot ‘Mad Max’ there. I love that movie.”
He would like to be more musically inclined
He took piano lessons growing up but as he progressed in football, something had to give.
“I wouldn’t mind knowing how to play the piano,” he said. “I used when I was younger, I wish I still played. That’s something that’s always been interesting. But football, school, football is all year round out here.”
It was once Tebow and Brady…
It appears that this generation of quarterbacks is Tim Tebow’s generation. Tebowmania didn’t pass Kaaya by, as the former Florida and NFL quarterback was one of Kaaya’s biggest idols. The other one is still going strong.
“Tim Tebow was the biggest one,” Kaaya said. “And then I’d have to say Tom Brady. Tom Brady, I grew up watching a lot.”
But now it’s Peyton
As Kaaya’s game has changed he’s looked to another NFL signal caller.
I think it’s more Peyton Manning these days,” he said. “He really plays the most like me. I really watch and emulate most of the stuff he does. He’s always aware, always in check and always making the right signals.
“He’s always present in the game.”
He could be Mike Winchell 2.0
Kaaya was just eight-years-old when the movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ came out in theaters but it was instantly one of his favorites. If they remade the high school football classic, he thinks he would make a good Mike Winchell.
The one movie character he wouldn’t want to play?
“Definitely not Booby Miles.”
Nutella: The breakfast of champs
Kaaya has multiple superstitions – take note of the wrist bands and rubber bands on his left wrist, never the right – but the one that he enjoys the one performed the morning of every game day.
“Every morning I have breakfast at 7 a.m., with my mom at IHOP,” Kaaya said. “Every game day. And I’ve eaten the same exact thing for the past three years.”