Brad Kaaya Highlights ACC Freshmen to Watch


June 30, 2013; Beaverton, OR, USA; Brad Kaaya, of West Hills, California, tosses the ball during the morning session of the Elite 11 at Nike World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

There are many exciting freshmen in the ACC this year, but here’s a look who I think will be the most productive, one at each skill position.

Quarterback: Brad Kaaya, Miami

Kaaya recently won the starting job, and will become the first true freshman to start an opener for Miami since Jacory Harris in 2008. Listed at 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 209 pounds, Kaaya has the ideal build of a quarterback. He threw for a school-record 3,855 yards in his senior year at Chaminade College Preparatory in California, leading his team to victory in the state championship. The biggest reason to believe Kaaya will be successful is his supporting cast, namely Duke Johnson. Johnson, a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, should force opponents to stack the box and play single coverage on the outside. With the help of Johnson, Kaaya is poised to put Miami atop the ACC Coastal division.

Running Back: Elijah Hood, North Carolina

Hood declined offers from Notre Dame and Alabama in choosing to come to North Carolina. While T.J. Logan currently sits ahead of him on the depth chart, Hood should see significant backfield touches for the Tar Heels. Hood is a big back, at 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds, but possesses surprising speed. An inexperienced offensive line could limit his production, but Hood has the talent to overcome that. After winning the Associated Press state player of the year at Charlotte Catholic, Hood is primed for a strong season in his first year of college.

Wide Receiver: Ermon Lane, Florida State

Lane is a four-star recruit according to ESPN, and has the inside track to start alongside senior Rashad Greene. Lane has the difficult task of replacing Kelvin Benjamin, but has the size and physical tools to do it. Lane is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 195 pounds, so he should be an immediate red zone threat for the Seminoles. With Jameis Winston throwing to him, Lane has a great opportunity to make an immediate impact. He may not match Kelvin Benjamin’s 15 touchdowns from last year, but 10 scores is a legit possibility.