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Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) drops back to pass during the second half in the NCAA Football game between Miami Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)

Is Kaaya the best QB in the ACC?

(Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)

The accolades keep coming in for Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Entering his junior year, Kaaya is on a couple of watch lists and will probably add a few more before the 2016 season kicks off.

The latest is the Davey O’Brien watch list, which goes to the nation’s top college quarterback. It’s the second consecutive season in which Kaaya has been nominated. He is one of 30 college quarterbacks named to the preseason list.

The Los Angeles native has also been selected to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team and Wuerffel Trophy watch list for his community service work. Earlier this month, Kaaya was selected to the 2016 Maxwell Award preseason watch list.

The O’Brien award is perhaps the most recognized and prestigious award for quarterbacks. Only two quarterbacks from Miami have won the award, which was first handed out back in 1981 (Jim McMahon, BYU). Canes standouts Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Gino Torretta (1992) took home the hardware.

Sixteen semifinalists for the award will be named on Thursday, Nov. 10. From that list, the Foundation and the Selection Committee will announce the three finalists on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The 2016 Davey O’Brien Award winner will be announced live Thursday, Dec. 8 on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

The 2016 season marks the 10th year that fans will be invited to participate in the voting process on www.voteobrien.org. Results from the Davey O’Brien Fan Vote will be combined with the ballots from the Selection Committee. Fan voting, which accounts for five percent of the total balloting, will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The 40th Annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner will be held Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, in Fort Worth, TX.

Kaaya has earned that recognition after putting together a sensational sophomore season that piggy-backed an equally impressive freshman year in Coral Gables. He threw for more than 3,000 yards for a second consecutive season, and 16 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He was just one of three players in college football to throw for 3,000-plus yards, 10-plus touchdowns and five-or-fewer interceptions.

But he was given just a third-team All-ACC spot following the 2015 season. He finished behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who won the 2015 Davey O’Brien Award, and North Carolina senior Marquise Williams.

Kaaya comes into the 2016 season having already thrown for 6,436 yards, fifth on the all-time list at Miami. He needs just 3,130 yards to become the Canes’ all-time leading passer.

So the question is, could Kaaya be considered the best quarterback in the ACC? It certainly appears that only one other quarterback could make such a claim. Watson did it all for Clemson last season, bringing the Tigers to the National Championship Game.

Virginia’s Matt Johns and Duke’s Thomas Sirk are definitely in the conversation, but both Kaaya and Watson appear to be above the rest. Watson played on arguably the best team in the country last season. And he returns most of his offensive linemen to protect him for the upcoming season. The question for Clemson will be on an inexperienced defense and how much pressure will that put on Watson and the Tigers’ offense.

Miami and Kaaya face a similar situation entering the new season. But the Canes have even more experience along the offensive line and more players coming back on defense.

So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Kaaya and the Canes make a move toward the top spot in the ACC. If Kaaya continues to produce the consistently ascending numbers he’s put up so far, he could very well become the ACC’s top quarterback in 2016.

Is Kaaya the best QB in the ACC?

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