CORAL GABLES, Fla. — If Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya helps the Hurricanes beat Nebraska, it would perhaps be doubly disappointing for standout Cornhuskers running back Terrell Newby.
After all, Newby's father basically got Kaaya his start in football.
A reunion awaits Newby and Kaaya — longtime teammates in their native California and still close friends — when Nebraska (1-1) visits Miami (2-0) on Saturday in a matchup of programs with 10 combined national titles. Kaaya has a touchdown pass in all 15 of his college games, and Newby has made taking over as the Huskers' featured back look easy with 279 total yards and four scores in this season's first two weeks.
"My dad was looking for guys to get on a team and Brad was one of the biggest, tallest kids," Newby said when asked how he and Kaaya got their football start together. "He wanted him to play. I don't think his mom wanted him to play at first."
Kaaya was six at the time. He wound up winning the quarterback job that fall, and the duo was on its way to bigger things. He and Newby were everything from preschool classmates to teammates all the way through high school at Chaminade Prep in West Hills, California, and never squared off as opponents until last fall when Miami played at Nebraska — a 41-31 victory for the Huskers.
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This weekend, Kaaya gets a shot at regaining bragging rights.
"It's a cool feeling lining up against him," Kaaya said. "He's always been good. I've always known that. Now the nation's starting to see it and it's good to see him succeeding."
Their college careers haven't exactly mirrored one another.
Newby, a junior, waited his turn to become Nebraska's go-to running back while Ameer Abdullah starred in that role for the Huskers during the last two seasons. Kaaya, a sophomore, has started every game of his Hurricane career and is now the program's unquestioned leader — even the face of the university, some would probably argue.
"I think its his poise that sets him apart," Newby said. "He's always had the poise as a quarterback. And now he's stepping up as a leader."
Seeing both Newby and Kaaya have success comes as no surprise to former Miami kicker Matt Goudis, who played with both in high school.
Newby used to wear Nebraska gear often during his high school days, and it was no secret even then that Kaaya was looking at Miami despite having plenty of offers to stay much closer to home. So to those who know the duo best, even though both moved far for college, they're exactly where they're supposed to be in many eyes.
"They both come from parents who have instilled great values in them," said Goudis, who had to give up football because of back problems last year but spent some time as Kaaya's teammate with the Hurricanes. "Our high school coach, Ed Croson, is well known in SoCal for having smart and disciplined teams. Terrell and Brad are products of wholesome parenting and being taught smart football at a young age. Both are mature beyond their years."