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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps using transfer year to get head start on 2013

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

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

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The 2012 Kansas University football season has been tough on KU quarterback Jake Heaps, but not because he has tossed interceptions, taken sacks or misread defenses.

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Kansas redshirt quarterback Jake Heaps takes off on a run during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

“Jake is very, very frustrated,” said KU coach Charlie Weis of the former BYU QB who has sat out the season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. “He’s frustrated that he can’t help.”

Last December, when the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Heaps became the second former five-star recruit to commit to the Jayhawks in the same day, no one imagined that KU’s quarterback play would reach the point where Heaps not only was frustrated, but also longed for. But that point is here. Fellow five-star transfer Dayne Crist struggled and was benched midway through the season. His replacement, red-shirt freshman Michael Cummings, showed signs of life but has been slow to adapt to the starting role. And at 1-8 overall and 0-6 in Big 12 play, KU currently sits in need of an upgrade at quarterback with its best option unable to suit up on Saturdays.

Sounds like the punchline to a cruel joke, but Heaps said the situation had not been all bad.

“As much as I am frustrated that I want to be out there, I know this is helping me improve as a player,” he said while talking with reporters for the first time since August. “Me sitting out has made me a much better player than I (would be) if I was to play right now.”

During his Tuesday news conference, Weis was asked to describe the ways in which Heaps had improved this season. The junior who will have two years of eligibility remaining starting next season has been there during Weis’ Monday night meetings with his quarterbacks. He has taken to the film study and extra time in the playbook made available to him with the pressure of competing off of his plate. Perhaps most importantly, though, he’s been able to get a sneak peek into what the guy who recruited him to Notre Dame out of high school is like as his head coach.

“Coach Weis puts a lot on the quarterback,” Heaps said. “And that’s the fun part about it. ... This has all just been a great process for me, to be able to dissect myself and look back at my game and see what I can improve physically and mentally.”

Asked Tuesday what he thought Heaps had gotten out of his first season in Lawrence, Weis smiled then rattled off a two-part answer.

“He’s been able to learn the offense,” Weis said. “And he’s formed relationships with a lot of guys, especially guys that aren’t the front-line guys because he spends a lot of time with ’em.”

The bulk of those bonds were built while preparing KU’s first-string defense for its upcoming opponent each week, as Heaps has handled scout team duties as a way to stay active and contribute to the team.

“Let me tell you something,” Weis began. “He’s the show team player of the week every week. We never give it to him, but it isn’t even close. Every week, he’s the guy. That poor defense. You think that they get passes completed on ’em in the game? You should see this guy in practice. That’s good and bad, by the way.”

Heaps did win the honor once this season — during the first week. After that, though, Weis informed his quarterback-in-waiting that he would not be eligible again. Heaps more than understood.

“It was a tremendous feeling, him saying in front of the team, ‘You’re the scout team player of the week this week and I expect you to be that every week,’” Heaps recalled. “Although I don’t get to play on Saturday, I give everything I have in whatever it is.”

While Heaps’ time off has allowed him to absorb Weis’ offense and gain the trust of his teammates, it also has provided an unexpected benefit for the program.

“He’s a hidden gem in recruiting,” Weis said. “Because all these guys that are being recruited all want to talk to him.”

That recruiting advantage might be more important than all of the other benefits combined. See, there’s still time to learn the offense. And Heaps and his teammates soon will have an entire offseason to bond. But getting better players to jump on board can’t happen soon enough, and both Weis and Heaps seem willing to do whatever it takes to expedite the process.

“Any time a recruit wants to ask me a question about KU and what it’s like here, I’m gonna give ’em an honest opinion,” Heaps said. “(Recruiting is) hard, and, as a player, I can give ’em a different perspective. I understand. For me, it’s an awesome opportunity not only to get to know future players, but maybe to get that inside track on getting them here.”

Recruiting is never far from Weis’ mind, and he said his recent conversations with recruits included their experiences with Heaps.

“They ask him anything they want,” Weis said. “We never tell him anything to say, and I can’t tell you how many recruits I talked to (Monday) night (who) said, ‘Yeah, I talked to Jake last week. Yeah, I talked to Jake last week.’ Jake’s wife must be mad at me right now.”

She’s not.

“I have a very supportive wife,” said Heaps after laughing about Weis’ prediction. “Sometimes she’ll be like, ‘Hey, if it comes down to it, I’ll promise to make him some dinner,’ or something like that. So she gets it. And whatever we can do to help this program, we’re all in.”

For now, aiding in recruiting and staying sharp on the field and in the weight room are the only areas in which Heaps can help the KU football program. But the time is coming when he’ll have a chance to compete for the starting quarterback job, a job which, if he wins it, will bear the responsibility of helping the Jayhawks bounce back from three of the roughest seasons in school history.

“We’re at the point in the season where we can still end this on a positive note, and that’s where my focus is,” said Heaps before acknowledging that he was aware of the hope people had attached to his name. “With expectations, you can’t try to prove people right or wrong. You can’t worry about all that. It’s based off your work ethic and what you do on the field. Sometimes this game gets stressful and you start worrying about other things, but, at the end of the day, this is football, and this is a game that we all love to play. If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point of being out there?”

Comments

Max Ledom 1 year, 11 months ago

Did anyone else have a small heart attack when you glanced at the head line and saw "Heaps" and "Transfer" in the same story title?

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Ditto...crap...s##t...Yep...Affirmative....hell yes....WTF....etc.

Thomas Michaud 1 year, 11 months ago

same here ... thought he was frustrated with what he saw and was going to leave.

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

No.

Hey, what do you want? I'm slow.

Ron Prichard 1 year, 11 months ago

Thanks, KG. I just spit out my drink laughing. Good stuff.

ku_foaf 1 year, 11 months ago

It took me awhile reading the article before I realized it was NOT the case!

Jim Erickson 1 year, 11 months ago

Good article but it's disappointing that we are already looking to next year. I don't like it when I read comments that imply this season was somehow destined to be this way. It was not. We had an inept set of coaches that led us to two wins a year ago. To fix the problem we hired an experienced coach who happens to be a pretty good OC, a good DC, and a good strength coach. We brought in a a big name QB and reconstructed our defensive line. Coaching, QB, and DLine were our biggest problems and we solved them... On paper.

I said before the season that this was a 4-5 win team and to be honest, I don't think I was crazy for thinking that. I think the problem is that we underachieved in nearly every aspect. Rice and Northern Illinois were massive losses. Overall, the program does not get a passing grade for this year.

I am not hopping off the Weis bandwagon at all. He definitely deserves time to build this thing. I am just very disappointed that the team has made no real progress.

Ashwin Rao 1 year, 11 months ago

I would agree with you if you look at the record, but disagree with you if you look at the details (GPA, competitiveness, number of mistakes made on the field, attitude, etc). I believe that you need to use a different yard-stick to measure the performance of a coach in his first year in a situation.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree to an extent, but moral victories only last for so long. If we go into the off season with 1 win, this season isn't the step forward we hoped it would be, but Weis definitely deserves our confidence moving forward.

jhox 1 year, 11 months ago

I have no problem with this article. The fans need a reason to have hope for the future. He and McCay give me that hope. Seeing them on the sidelines at every game gives me hope that the future of KU football may not be as bleak as the last 5 years. They give me a reason to re-up my season tickets. If KU football is going to become relevant they need to keep the fans interested, and they need people in the stands. Anything that gives us something to look forward to is good in my book.

Mike Mainzer 1 year, 11 months ago

Winning is a midset and losing is a mindset. KU football is postively shifting from one to the other. Look at ND, it took Coach Kelly three years to be prominent again coaching one of the most historically prestigious programs in college football and he doesn't have as many recruiting challenges as Weis and Co. Weis is gradually changing expectations of the players - not evident yet in the wins and losses column - but more importantly in their effort in training, practice and on the field. Don't just look to next year. Look forward to next year. They will be better and will pull out close wins like Rice, Northern Illinois and even TX. It's baby steps rebuilding a program in shambles. The goal is a bowl next year and to challenge for the Big XII in 2-3. If that occurs we pony up and extend Weis's contract or else he'll be gone to a bigger BCS school.

nuleafjhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope Jake lives up to the 5 star hype. Not everyone does.....

MoralVictory 1 year, 11 months ago

Like Dorial Beckam Green. Poor Mizzou, this was supposed to be the good year for them because Georgia and Florida were supposed to be in the "ebb" mode....just wait till those teams really get good!

Jim Erickson 1 year, 11 months ago

I think he's referring to someone else... Crist is the worst QB we have lined up since Adam Barmann. He's also the highest ranked player to ever wear a Jayhawk uniform. High School rankings mean a lot, but they are certainly not perfect.

Todd Simpson 1 year, 11 months ago

Cairo_Jayhawk,

If I recall Adam Barmann got KU to an orange bowl game against NC State....Philip Rivers destroyed that Defense but you should compare Crist to a worse QB not Barmann.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 11 months ago

Tangerine Bowl does not = Orange Bowl

And wasn't Bill Whittemore the QB of that KU team, Barmann's team thrived on defense. He and Brian Luke traded starts before Jason Swanson took over and led KU to the Fort Worth Bowl.

Ron Prichard 1 year, 11 months ago

Tangerine Bowl, Orange Bowl....bah...details, details. And I think it was the Cotton Bowl, not the Fort Worth Bowl. :-)

omari1911 1 year, 11 months ago

Um, Tangerine Bowl. But your point is a valid one.

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

It was the Tangarine Bowl. And, Barmann never got on a roll when he had 4 seasons with mostly the same offensive players. Barmann showed flashes of excellence, but it wasn't consistent.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 11 months ago

I think you are talking about the Tangerine Bowl with Bill Whittemore. Other wise it would be the Fort Worth Bowl where Jason Swanson was our QB, though Barmann did play a bit that year.

You might be right though. Crist is the worst we have had in awhile. At least Barmanns team had other options.

Theonlythingthatexceedsyourbad 1 year, 11 months ago

Was the Tangerine Bowl and Wittemore - not the Orange bowl or Barman

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

Even if it's just 4 star that he live up to, with limited time to develop, ie 2 years, It will be good.

gdkadjayhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

I will not allow myself any positive emotions about former 5-star quarterbacks anymore until I see results on the field. Period. Go Jayhawks.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 11 months ago

If it makes you feel better, at one point Heaps was playing at a very high level whereas Crist never really has been a difference maker. Our hope was in Crist's potential and not his production. Our faith in Heaps is a mix of both.

Jayhawker111 1 year, 11 months ago

Heaps....A 5 star rating in high now means nothing. There is a reason Heaps got beat out at BYU in his second season...

During the 2011 season, Heaps started the first five games of the season for BYU. During those first five games, Heaps threw 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and failed to garner a QB rating higher than 116.3 or complete a pass greater than 37 yards.

I hope Wies makes Heaps compete for the job against all the other Qb and not just hand him the job like he did with Crist.

Boouk 1 year, 11 months ago

If we have him at QB this year we probably beat Rice, NIU, OSU, and Texas. 1 more win, probably ISU at home, and we're a bowl team.

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Nobody knows that. It sounds good but we've been down that road this year already.

ccarp 1 year, 11 months ago

While this article is about preparing for next year, I do appreciate learning how development for the future is progressing this season. It sounds like Heaps is doing exactly what we would need him to be doing for the Hawks this season. I am not putting as much expectations on Heaps as I did Crist, but I do appreciate the professionalism and the football awareness of both Heaps and Crist. I think they have both contributed significantly to the improved culture of the team. All of the additions have resulted in a better product on the field, that hasn't shown on the scoreboard. Not accepting moral victories, but it is much better to watch than what we've seen the past 2 years. I hope to hear more about matchups in the future, at the moment I appreciate articles on development this season.

Savion Havon 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually Cummings is the fleetest of foot out of all the qb's I think that article has been taken out of context because they were speaking on him(Cummings) being a dual threat qb. HCCW clearly stated he was being pegged wrong because he has a cannon for a arm.

TopCityBob 1 year, 11 months ago

Watched every snap of every game in person and on TV. Anyone that thinks this team isn't vastly improved from last year is just looking at the win total. Fundamentals of the game are so much improved from the past 2 years. Tell me when was the last time you were on the edge of your seat thinking we had a shot to beat Texas and OSU in the same season? Maybe the wins are not there, but seriously what is the difference between 1 win and 3 or 4? If we were talking about a team that should have had 8-10 wins it would be different. The effort is there, just not the speed to compete with the spread offenses right now. Charlie showed a lot to me this year by putting in Cummings and adjusting the offense to give him a chance to succeed. I still have faith in the coaching staff. I think they are building the team the right way. Yeah, we shouldn't be talking about next year yet, but next year will be a better test of the coaching staff and the player development. Weis has not even been around the players a full year yet.

akgjenkintown 1 year, 11 months ago

They are absolutely better than last year regardless of their record. The inherited talent is improving and needs to be upgraded to change the win:loss record. Mack Brown even indicated how much better KU is compared to last year and commended Weis for hiring Campo. When opposing coaches before a game make these types of comments they can see on film KU is getting better. Now the talent level needs to continue to improve so the coaching pays off.

flyingfinn 1 year, 11 months ago

Absolutely agree and agree with earlier comments about improved attitude, GPA and weight room training. Only area where I would say we have not improved is quarterback play and hopefully this article is true and we get much better next year with Heaps play.

master16 1 year, 11 months ago

well he's either excited and determined to help KU football next season, or he's watching Crist crash and burn in front of him and thinking what the heck he got himself into. at least he'll have a 5 star WR to throw to next year.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Coaching + Effort + Talent = Success.

I think you can all pretty much guess which factor of this equation will need to be drastically improved for Kansas football to become competitive. [Hint..it begins with the letter "T".]

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

I want to agree, but I can't get over that fact that KU's defense in '05 and '06 was built with 2-3 start players, and they DOMINATED.

I suppose it depends on who you ask as far as talent goes. Rivals or the coaches.

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, it was absolute domination but it started in 2004 actually. They held Darren Sproles to 74 yards on 24 carries. They stuffed him early and often. And, Kansas was favored to win that game, and they won the game and Bill Snyder was coach for K-State in 2004. The loss to Kansas is why he retired, in my opinion. He gave up for a bit.

Jim Jackson 1 year, 11 months ago

I think a big problem was the fact that Crist just has no mobility whatsoever. After his knee corrections, he literally looks like a statue. Thank God Heaps has no knee issues and has quick feet.

The team, although does not refelct in win column, is certainly improved.

I look for this coaching staff to hit the JUCOs hard and get us better talent.

Rock Chalk!

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Quick feet are nice. Cummings has 'em. What's even better is to have a quick release, accuracy and the cojones to deliver the ball.

All of which we haven't seen since Reesing.

You know, I really would like to see Reesing back here coaching the QBs. I think he would make a great coach.

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

Cummings' feet aren't that quick. Cumming is not even close to Reesing's mobility.

Savion Havon 1 year, 11 months ago

As quick as Reesing was he didn't run a 4.4 4.5. Bottom line is speed kills. If we are speaking on who's got the fastest feet and can run the fastest I'd like to see the summer and spring test results I think we will all be surprised wonder if Matt can get that

VaJay 1 year, 11 months ago

Ralster. Where did you get the "quickness" idea about Heaps? His career rushing stats are 48 carries for MINUS 157 yards.

VaJay 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope you're right, but I seriously doubt he's in the "Cummings" speed category...

BillSelf4Prez 1 year, 11 months ago

Sorry i couldn't win the election last night guys!

But on another note. I'm not to hyped about the QB we have coming in from SME next year. His team got beat my Olathe East Hawks in the playoffs (who aren't very good this year) And Darling only scored one touchdown on us and didn't do very good in the Sunflower league. Don't expect too much.

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

Darling probably won't be playing QB at Kansas, but then again these kids are in high school. If they grow another 2 or 3 inches and put on some more beef as in muscle and go from 4.7 40 to 4.4 40 as a QB. The extra height can make a big difference in speed, but so can working on technique while running and the first step.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 11 months ago

How many times are going to get tricked into falling for fool's gold? It's obvious that Crist and the other transfers were not successful at their respective schools. We convinced ourselves that they would be successful here.

We fooled ourselves into thinking Crist got the shaft at Notre Dame...but in reality, Crist cannot handle the college game. And I have a news flash for you, folks, Jake Heaps transferred from BYU for a reason. He was remarkably inadequate his sophomore year.

And once again, we're trying to believe something we know is false. If anything, we KU football fans are guilty of denial; not bandwagon fandom.

I hope I'm wrong. Believe me. I'm not jumping ship, but I have to start calling my love for KU football by what it truly is....habit. I can no longer keep up the illusion of believing this team is capable of anything more than making it to a mediocre bowl game once a decade.

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

You already have jumped ship my friend. Landry Jones wasn't all that good when he was a Freshman or Sophomore. The difference is, his receivers CAUGHT THE DAMN BALL.

Al Martin 1 year, 11 months ago

1973, cut him a little slack. Those of us who've watched this hot mess for more than 40 years just can't go on hype alone anymore. I go to games, and I root like hell, but, come on, I just can't emotionally engage like I did before I got my heart broken a million times.

Oh, and Reuben, it isn't a habit, it's a sickness. Believe me I know :-).

Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

JayhawkInAustin, It's not about emotion. If you're really in Austin, and I'm not buying it right now, then you can see Ash is pretty bad throwing QB, isn't he? The receivers make plays though don't they? So, I can throw the ball through a tire from 25 yards away 7 out of 10 times, but if the receiver misses it 3 out of 7 times it hits him right in the chest, 40% completion average. This isn't rocket science.

Nobody applies the same standard to themselves as they do to "football players". Well, maybe we shouldn't expect other people to "be better than people". Then maybe some realistic views will set in for some.

heskia1 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, maybe KU will win a BigXII game next year!!

UtahGma 1 year, 11 months ago

LOL. We're sufferin' back here at BYU without Jake ; > But I don't think he'd consider leaving again. Sounds like he's found a great fit, and there are Jake fans here at BYU who are rooting for KU!!! He was a great recruiter here as well. If we had him here, I believe we would have only one loss with our hot defense. Our close loses to Boise State, Notre Dame and Utah probably wouldn't have happened with Jake at the helm. But what the heck, we have great church fireside talks... sigh.

byuhockey 1 year, 11 months ago

@jayhawker111....you have a wonderful QB in he making. our BYU coaches started him too early and the BYU OC does not know how to coach a drop back passer. Our head coach has a man crush on the current QB who cannot throw father than 40 yds. Heaps got a raw deal at BYU. he also had absolutely NO offensive line in front of him. he was scared to get hammered out there on EVERY play. look for great improvement from Heaps and you are very lucky to have him. most BYU fans are wishing he was back at BYU now. he would have won the starting job back this year.

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