ORLANDO -- After a rough start, Miami QB Brad Kaaya found a rhythm and torched the West Virginia defense on Wednesday night in the Hurricanes' Russell Athletic Bowl victory. The night didn't start off well for the Miami passer. The Mountaineers were getting pressure on Kaaya and shutting down the run game. Miami didn't record a first down until four minutes into the second quarter.
Kaaya missed several seam throws and struggled to avoid the rush. However, he hit ultra-talented freshman wideout Ahmmon Richards on a quick hitch route in the middle of the second quarter and he turned it into a 51-yard score.
At that point, Kaaya settled in and started picking the Mountaineers apart with rhythm strikes underneath before connecting on a 26-yard pass over the top to Braxton Berrios. By the end of the night, Kaaya had produced impressive numbers -- 24-of-34 for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns.
This game was a perfect reflection of what I saw on tape from Kaaya. When he's clean in the pocket and his first read pops open, he delivers the ball with excellent touch and accuracy. However, when he's forced off his spot, he struggled to make plays. That is the key area he needs to improve in.
Kaaya has yet to announce his intentions for 2017, but I think he would benefit from another year of seasoning in college. If he can improve on his ability to play in chaos, his stock will jump. He's bigger in person than I expected and he can make all of the throws. He just needs a little more time in college. He has a few more weeks to make a final decision -- the deadline for underclassmen to apply for early eligibility is Jan. 16.
Here are my observations on a couple other prospects from the Russell Athletic Bowl who caught my eye:
» The buzz is starting to build on talented Miami tight end David Njoku, and he put on a show Wednesday night. He has the ideal body type for the position and he showed off his athleticism after the catch tonight. He made defenders miss on a couple tunnel screens and then he stepped through a tackle on another short pass, which resulted in a touchdown. This TE class is loaded (speaking of -- I'll see Michigan's Jake Butt on Friday and Alabama's O.J. Howard on Saturday), but Njoku announced after the game that he intends to enter the 2017 draft, and he could end up being the best of the bunch at his position.
» I haven't studied West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas on tape, but I've heard his name come up in discussions with scouting buddies. He makes a heck of a first impression. He's every bit of 6-foot-2 210 pounds. He looks like a safety. He had a solid game Wednesday night. He produced a nice pass breakup in the first half and made a couple big hits. He's only a one-year starter, but he looks like a player who'll go in the top three rounds. Reese's Senior Bowl week will be a big opportunity for him to bolster his draft stock.