Gino Torretta ‘has a hunch’ why Brad Kaaya decided to turn pro

Brad Kaaya readies to throw against Virginia. (Getty Images)

Brad Kaaya readies to throw against Virginia. (Getty Images)

[Brad Kaaya announces he is turning pro]

[Teammates react to the news]

[Hurricanes gearing up for QB battle]

[Njoku declares for draft after bowl win]

[Yearby makes it official: he’s gone]

Gino Torretta won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Miami.

He has no issue with Brad Kaaya giving up any chance to do the same.

Torretta, who won the top award in college football in 1992, said he supported Kaaya’s declaration he will enter the NFL draft a year early, and said he will likely have a good pro career.

“You look at what he’s done: [throwing for nearly] 10,000 yards, [holding nearly] every record [at UM],” Torretta said on WQAM. “If he thinks there’s a chance to win a national championship based on what they have coming back, then you make a different decision.

“Just a hunch, but when you get your tooth broken” — as Kaaya did against Florida State — “and I think he’s been knocked out a time or two this season,” Torretta said. “I think he’d rather get paid to be knocked out.”

Brad Kaaya holds his lost tooth after taking a hit to the head from Florida State. (ABC)

Brad Kaaya holds his lost tooth after taking a hit to the head against Florida State. (ABC)

Torretta, a Sirius XM commentator, said Kaaya experiencing a college head coaching switch “will work in his favor” in the forever-changing NFL. Asked if he would recommend an NFL team draft him, he said it depends on the scheme and coaching staff.

“I like the kid,” Torretta said. “I think he’s done everything Miami’s ever asked and hasn’t complained, even though he’s had some crappy teams and some crappy schemes at times. … He can make all the throws. He could improve his mobility a little bit, but some of that stuff is [him being asked] to stay in the pocket.

Assessing him from a physical standpoint, Torretta said Kaaya has “fine” throwing velocity, “he can make the deep comeback, the 15-, 20-yard out route, which is the hardest throw in the game,” and is “a lot bigger than you think [and] will run a faster 40 time than you think.

“You always need good quarterback play in that league because of the injuries those guys have. I see him being very successful at the next level.

“It all comes down to the guys around him.”

Kaaya is one of the best Miami quarterbacks from a statistical standpoint — he is No. 1 in career passing yards, completions, attempts and is third in touchdowns — but went 1-2 in bowls, didn’t win an ACC title, didn’t beat Florida State, didn’t win 10 games and didn’t win a major national award (the ACC rookie of the year was the most prominent trophy in his case, unless you count the Russell Athletic Bowl MVP). So, Gino: where do you rank him among Miami’s best quarterbacks?

“I don’t know how you compare. The teams I played on were a little bit better than the teams he played on,” Torretta said, dryly. “To come in when he did and a lot of the guys he’s leaving with, they came in with tremendous risk: ‘Is Miami going to get the death penalty?’ That’s what [opposing] coaches were telling them. If you look at his personal stats, obviously he broke all my records a long time ago. I think it’s really hard to compare guys who played  in my era or [Ken] Dorsey, who had phenomenal talent around him.

“Name one guy Kaaya’s played with who could even play with Dorsey. I don’t think you can compare. I think he’s been a great kid, a hell of a player, done the best with the hand he was dealt.

“‘Quarterback U’ became Quarterback U because of great players around [the quarterbacks] and great defenses.”

What does Torretta think of Miami’s first year under Mark Richt?

“I thought they ended it well,” he said. “Obviously that stretch in the middle — the Florida State game sucked. I guess that was karma for Wide Right I, II, III and IV and whatever other games. The disappointing one was, how the hell did we lose to Notre Dame? … I think it was a good start, but I’m a little bit disappointed in that Notre Dame game.”

Does he know anything about the quarterbacks who could replace Kaaya?

“You’ve seen about as much as I have,” he said. “I would say this: there are some talented young men on this team. … There will be enough talent and competition, and if the defense gets better, I think we’ll be all right.”

Asked if the Hurricanes have “turned the corner” as a program, Torretta said he’ll wait until signing day and see what battles Miami has won.

“If we beat FSU or Florida or Alabama or Georgia for one or two recruits,” he said, “then I’ll say we have turned the corner.”

 

 

 

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