Brad Kaaya has plenty to be excited about.
The Hurricanes quarterback is tabbed as a potential top-five pick in some early 2017 NFL mock drafts. Kaaya, who will be a junior this fall and thus eligible to declare for the 2017 draft, is No. 2 overall in Todd McShay’s latest mock draft for ESPN.
But Kaaya insists that he’s not looking ahead to that enticing possibility. Instead, he’s looking back at his past.
“I always just remember why I started playing football,” Kaaya said last week when asked how he keeps NFL draft discussions from becoming a distraction. “I think back to when I was younger. I think back to my freshman year when I was in high school and didn’t have any offers. That kind of sticks in my head. I’m a guy who’s not going to let my work ethic loosen up. I’m always going to work hard every day. I owe it to coach (Mark) Richt and my teammates.
“It’s still a new regime, it’s still a new offense. I still have things to learn. I haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t reached my ceiling. I still think I have a ways to go.”
With spring practice behind him, Kaaya is now focusing on making sure his body is ready for the upcoming season. The 6-foot-4 Kaaya, who said he’s up to 215 pounds, looked noticeably thicker at a community service event last week.
Kaaya said he played at 208 pounds last season and at 204 pounds as a freshman.
“I think I’ve put on good weight,” he said. “It feels good. They’re working us hard.”
So how much better does Kaaya feel right now compared to the end of last season?
“I don’t know,” Kaaya said with a smile. “We’ll see in September. It’s all been team vs. team in spring practice. There are no live bullets yet.”