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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

High hopes for Jake Heaps

QB establishes himself during year off

Kansas redshirt quarterback Jake Heaps looks to hand off to running back Tony Pierson during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas redshirt quarterback Jake Heaps looks to hand off to running back Tony Pierson during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

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Kansas University quarterback Jake Heaps (9) warms up during practice on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, at Memorial Stadium.

With the Kansas University football team struggling to keep up with West Virginia and the disappointment of the 2012 season ticking away quarter by quarter, minute by minute, the unofficial beginning of the 2013 campaign was under way.

Back home in Lawrence, as he watched the 59-10 loss on television, third-year sophomore Jake Heaps sent his thoughts about plays, performances and the future to KU coach Charlie Weis via text message. Weis referenced the texts in his postgame news conference, and, by the time the Jayhawks returned home, Heaps had become the team’s leader.

It was a role Heaps had waited an entire season for, one he practiced, pictured and wondered about for months.

“Learning this particular offense and getting to know coach Weis and what he’s like and what he expects from you, I think that’s a huge deal,” said Heaps, the former BYU quarterback who transferred to Kansas last December to play for Weis.

Weis, beginning his second offseason in charge of the Jayhawks, recruited Heaps out of high school and has known for a while what kind of quarterback — and leader — the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior-to-be from Skyline High in Issaquah, Wash., would be. It’s the rest of the people associated with KU — from teammates and coaches to fans and foes — who have yet to truly see what Heaps can do.

Don’t count KU’s defensive coaches in that group. They saw it a little too much during 2012, when Heaps led KU’s scout team.

“The defensive staff would be delighted not to see any more of Jake Heaps,” Weis said. “Because every day in practice, he just tore them up. He really performed at a very high level.”

Some have high hopes and believe Heaps will be the guy who finally leads the KU offense back to something that resembles the point-scoring machine it was under record-setting quarterback Todd Reesing. Others are more skeptical, partly because they don’t know Heaps yet and partly because of the failed Dayne Crist experiment that plagued KU’s quarterback position during 2012. Heaps is ready to show both camps what he can do.

“In no way, shape or form do you want to shy from expectations,” Heaps said. “You want expectations to be really, really high, and you want to meet those, and you want to go beyond them, but that can’t be your concern. Your concern has to be working as hard as you can, being the best teammate, being the best player and hopefully making the team the best it can possibly be.”

Added Weis: “Most people in (Heaps’ position) would have wallowed away in anonymity. Not Jake Heaps. He was grinding from the day he got here. He’s been nothing but a positive influence around here. If I asked the players to vote for their favorite player on a team, he might win it without having played. I’m not going to anoint him as the second coming. I’m just saying that’s where we are right now, and that’s a good place to start.”

It has not yet been determined whether Heaps will be KU’s starting quarterback heading into the 2013 season, but he certainly appears to be the heavy favorite and already has started acting like it. He looks the part, has been an active participant in KU’s offseason recruiting haul and even carries himself with a different bounce than he did in the shadows.

“Jake’s a great player, a great teammate, and I’m excited to see him compete,” Crist said. “I think it’ll be good for him to finally be eligible and be able to do some meaningful stuff. He can be a very special player.”

That’s the goal, of course, but Heaps is more than willing to let things play out naturally. After all, Heaps said he would not have changed a thing about his time in Lawrence thus far.

“It’s been fun to sit back and gain perspective on what it’s like to be here, what it’s like to be a Kansas Jayhawk and where I fit in with this team,” he said.

As for the pressure that comes with manning the most important position in Weis’ offense, Heaps is more than up for that.

“That’s the fun part about it; you run the show,” he said. “As you go the team goes. That’s why I love the position.

“You guys will get to know me a little bit better, but I am a very competitive guy. I love every opportunity that I have to go out on the field and get better. There are no gimmicks, no special way to get it done other than competing, having fun and working hard.”

Comments

Larry Ewart 1 year, 3 months ago

Can anyone name a school other than Kansas that lost all their games to teams that were bowl eligible? I am speaking of at a minimum of 6 losses.

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jayhawkinATL 1 year, 3 months ago

Yep...learned to temper my optimism after the Crist debacle.

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BringBackMark 1 year, 3 months ago

It's good to see some optimism regarding KU football. CW's insisting on annointing a QB prior to spring practice bothers me. The manner in which we lost 4 of the 11 games this year also bothers me. Game coaching seemed to be missing in the final 5 minutes. I also think he's going to have to coach to his personnel rather than try to fit everyone into "his system".

Since the team realistically should've won 5 games this year that should be the lower limit for expectations next year.

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Jake Waddle 1 year, 3 months ago

Matt... Not sure if anyone has asked this yet or not, but I see some players are going to transfer from Florida. A Safety and an OL. Is there any chance either of those guys end up at Kansas??

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jayhawkintx1973 1 year, 3 months ago

This is really insane to dwell on Crist. First, let's take a look at all the poor passes opposing QBs made, but their receivers made adjustments and caught the ball any way. Geno Smith had a lot of terrible passes against us, but his receivers adjusted to the ball and made plays. We had a lot of passes our guys had both hands on and dropped, at least 5 or 6 in every game. That's significant, and it stalled out or offense at times.

KU will have to be able to pass on first down at times this season, IMO.

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jayhawkintx1973 1 year, 3 months ago

2 players from Hutchinson Juco are going to commit to Kansas. I don't know their names yet, but it appears one offensive and one defensive player from the 12 rated NJCAA team.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 3 months ago

Crist suffered injuries to both of his knees, Heaps has no injury history. I look for him to tear through Big 12 defenses next year.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 3 months ago

Regardless of what any outcomes, I have to admit that Weis has done his best to recruit what we need. He gave D and O Lines tremendous focus, and there is potential for some of these D Backs we have coming in. The receivers, at least from a height standpoint, could provide an upgrade as all.

Whether any of that will pay off on the field is yet to be determined. There's a lot of "paper potential" in this incoming group.

But at least he gave it the best shot he could. We'll wait and see.

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danno1313 1 year, 3 months ago

I hope Jake is good but I can't get Crist and how awful he was out of my head.

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cableboy764 1 year, 3 months ago

Off topic....Looking for a KU perspective...Any thoughts on expansion? Specifically thoughts on Colorado St. joining the conference. This is still Big XII country here in Colorado, it would be nice to have a rooting interest again. I think the conference should strike now while the getting is good. We all know that 16 team conferences will become the norm at some point. The Big XII should be proactive rather than reactive IMO.

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Boouk 1 year, 3 months ago

Some reasons why I think Heaps will almost as good as Todd Reesing

  1. He broke some of Steve Young's passing records as a freshman
  2. QB's coach Ron Powlus back in the spring said Heaps had the best mechanics, throwing motion, and accuracy of all the QB's on KU's roster
  3. Matt Tait said back in The fall Heaps is more mobile than Cummings and Crist
  4. He'll have a way better running game than he ever had at BYU

I'm not saying he's Seth Doege, but I think he'll be a Big 12 caliber QB and our passing game will be significantly improved.

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mikehawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Optimistic. Pessimistic. Kool-Aid. Over-hyped. Tears it up in practice. Doesn't matter. He is the only game in town so let's go with it and see what happens. Not like OU where they have a stable of gifted quarterbacks fighting to take the place of Landry Jones. Sadly, the player who will probably get the job next year at OU went to high school in Kansas.

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 3 months ago

I'll believe it when I see it. I'm not mindlessly drinking the Kool-Aid this time.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 3 months ago

Question...is Heaps mobile? I honestly have no idea.

QB mobility is a huge part of the game today, and one of Crist's detrimental incapabilities. I know the kid (Heaps) has an arm, but can he run if necessary?

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bigtex 1 year, 3 months ago

Heaps will be an excellent pocket passer. We all know the offense starts with the big guys up front. If the offensive line gives Heaps protection the passing production will be excellent. Defenses will have to honor our running backs on run plays, this will give Heaps play action capabilities that will also help the passing output.I believe Heaps has all the tools as a pocket passer, I don't know anything about his scrambling ability. I hope he has a great year. Go Jayhawks

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

I am a glass half full kind of a guy but KU's football glass has had a hole in the bottom of it for awhile now.

I think that hole has been plugged and the glass is filling.

AAALLLLAAABBBOOOAAARRRDDD the Kool-Aid Train!!! I got dibbs on the caboose!! :)

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Stephan123 1 year, 3 months ago

Skyline High School is in Sammamish, Washington not Issaquah.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 3 months ago

Tread lightly, my friends.

The only thing that hurts worse than watching an awful team play a dismal season on the field is watching every heart of an entire fanbase break, not simultaneously, but one by one; slowly over the course of 12 weeks.

Beware the Kool-Aid.

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integritycounts 1 year, 3 months ago

Staff should do Heaps and our fans a favor and dont "Dayne Crist" us again with the hype. Both these young men seem to be great people, competitors and teammates. However, both got beat out of jobs at their previous schools. There is a reason they are here....they were not productive enough at their previous institutions. We do these kids a great injustice to assume they are going to turn around our program. Our scout team making our #1 Defense look bad is not necessarily a proclamation of greatness..... this defense made McHargue of Rice and Zenner of South Dakota St. look like all americans and dont forget ISU first time starter Richardson went 23-27 250yds. and scored 5 TD's he would have been in the Heisman hunt had he played aginst our defense every week. Lets hope for the best but expect the expected a hopeful upgrade to Crist and Cummings.

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Jason Keller 1 year, 3 months ago

Am I the only one who finds it a tad bit weird that Heaps was texting Weis during the game? I understand that CW wasn't checking his phone and texting back during the game but I still think it's weird.

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Joseph Kuebel 1 year, 3 months ago

I will say that I will be optimistic yet again. Although the B12 is a brutal conference... I think we can weasel out a 3-6 conference season to become a bowl team, granted we don't con ourselves out of the 3 non-con games... (pun intended)- ya like that?

"#HeedTheHeaps2013-14"

You heard it here first.

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amatxjayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Ah hell, go ahead and be full bore optimistic!! We've got a lot of good things going on right now and there are enough half empty, negative, naysayers around to give balance per se. (Pun intended) If you don't go on the field believing you can win, why play the damn games. I'm eager to see these guys put together some wins, I'm believing it's going to happen, and I'm picking the Jayhawks every time they step on the field. Not only that I'll be staying the the very end of every game I attend. Piss on the naysayers.

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Doug Roberts 1 year, 3 months ago

Cautiously, very cautiously, optimistic.

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