Brad Kaaya vs. Deshaun Watson: The Match-Up Between Two Premier Quarterbacks

Recruiting a premier quarterback could change the outlook of a college program for a decade. Fanatics of schools across the nation follow recruiting with a magnifying glass and wonder when they will get the next superstar. One event in particular, The Elite 11, headed by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer and QB guru George Whitfield, select the nation’s top high school quarterbacks to compete in a camp. This upcoming Saturday will feature a match-up between two finalist of the camp, Brad Kaaya and Deshaun Watson.

Two years ago, Deshaun Watson, out of Georgia, committed to Clemson over top schools such as LSU, Florida State, Ohio State amongst others. Out of the 2013 Elite 11 class which included Brad Kaaya of Miami.

Some analysts suggested that Watson was the most likely to succeed in college. Unlike Brad Kaaya, the Clemson quarterback early enrolled in January of 2014. Watson did not receive an ample amount of playing time until the third game of the season, and overtime loss to Florida State , which he threw for 266 yards. But when it was time for Watson to become a starter, he set a record of six touchdowns  vs. North Carolina. After that, Watson was in early consideration for the Heisman trophy by consistently putting up big numbers until his knee injury.

The story of Brad Kaaya has similarities and differences. Kaaya, from Los Angeles, California, choose Miami over surrounding schools in the area like USC and UCLA thanks to offensive coordinator James Coley. Miami was Brad Kaaya’s first ‘major’ school to offer.  Due to his high school not allowing people to graduate early, Kaaya was not able to enroll until June of 2014. Most believed that Kaaya would redshirt and take a back seat to ex-Miami quarterbacks Jake Heaps, Kevin Olsen and Ryan Williams. As most know the story of Williams hurting himself in camp, this provided Brad Kaaya an opportunity to see the field as a freshman. Unlike Watson, Kaaya was thrown into the fire in his first game.. Miami’s first game in 2014 was against Louisville which resulted in a loss. Al Golden even admitted that he held Brad Kaaya back because he wasn’t sure that the youngster would be able to handle the road atmosphere. However, Kaaya showed enormous maturity  for the rest of the season, despite his team’s 6-7 record. He would go on to win ACC freshman of the year.

Let’s compare the two quarterbacks freshman years

Miami QB Brad Kaaya’s Freshman Year Statistics
Arkansas State162434267%6314131.9
Georgia Tech162524564%372176.3
Virginia Tech7169244%250183.3
North Carolina111718965%4203141.9
Floirda State163431647%611287.4
*South Carolina193323658%481177.3

Note: Deshaun Watson missed a total of five games due to injury

Clemson’s QB Deshaun Watson’s Freshmen Year Statistics
South Carolina State8915488.93903158.3
Florida State192826667.9390098.2
North Carolina273643575.07416142.9
North Carolina State172926758.65602112.3
Georgia Tech462166.7110072.2
South Carolina141926973.77002150.7

Obviously, Watson’s statistics are a bit deflated due to his injury in 2014. Watson threw for less turnovers but Kaaya played in more games. Yet, these numbers aren’t awful for two quarterbacks in their first years. They are actually quite good for two freshman. Watson adds a running game element which sets him a part from many quarterbacks. But, is Brad Kaaya a better pocket QB? Lets take a look to this year.


The year of 2015 allows you to get a better comparison between Watson and Kaaya:

The tell of tape tells that Kaaya is much better at taking care of the ball than Watson. Kaaya has about 350+ more yards in the passing game than Watson. Yet in the stat book, Watson has an advantage. Since he is a dual threat QB, the Clemson star keeps opposing defenses on their toes every down. He has 234 rushing yards on the year with two touchdowns. He is certainly likely to give the Miami defense problems this Saturday. Although if Brad Kaaya gets some protection from his offensive line, we might be in store for a great game between two premier quarterbacks.

Which QB you want on your squad?

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