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Originally published August 19, 2013 at 11:59a.m., updated August 19, 2013 at 11:46p.m.

KU football announces Heaps, Heeney, Sims and Stowers as captains

The Kansas University football team announced its 2013 captains — from left, senior running back James Sims, junior quarterback Jake Heaps, junior linebacker Ben Heeney and junior defensive tackle Keon Stowers — on Monday.

The Kansas University football team announced its 2013 captains — from left, senior running back James Sims, junior quarterback Jake Heaps, junior linebacker Ben Heeney and junior defensive tackle Keon Stowers — on Monday.

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Long before he was voted as one of the Kansas University football program’s four captains for the 2013 season, junior quarterback Jake Heaps made it a point to groom others to join him.

In the days that followed KU’s season-ending loss to West Virginia last December, Heaps engaged in one-on-one meetings with several of his teammates to lay the groundwork for the offseason and season in the distance.

“The very next day Jake called me in and we talked for like two hours, just about what my role needs to be now,” said junior linebacker Ben Heeney, who, along with Heaps as well as senior James Sims and junior Keon Stowers was named a captain for 2013 on Monday. “I’m not just a sophomore and I need to step up. I feel like I’ve done that.”

Added Sims of his meeting with KU’s quarterback: “He was just telling me to become more of a vocal guy because the players on the team are gonna look up to me. I just took that in and bought into what he was saying.”

Heaps had similar talks with several others, and although the tone of each was slightly different, the message was the same.

“The biggest thing is we’re just about the team,” Heaps said. “This is a team effort and we’re not a bunch of individuals.”

Although Heaps was the man who spearheaded the change in the way leadership was both perceived and carried out at Kansas, the former BYU quarterback does not feel he did anything special.

“That’s not a pat on the back on me, that’s just being a teammate and recognizing that these guys have leadership qualities that they don’t realize they have,” he said. “These guys have done an amazing job this offseason and that’s why we’ve come together so much as a team.”

Stowers, who like Heaps earned the respect of his teammates in just one season, said having Heaps take the leadership reins early made a bigger impact on everybody.

“To hear it coming from a player, it’s different,” Stowers, a junior nose tackle. “When you hear it from a coach, it’s sort of like a parent or a father-figure coming down on you, telling you you have to be better. When it’s coming from one of your buddies that you see in the laundry room or you see in the dorms or in the lunch room, it sticks with you more because those are the guys who are out there between the lines.”

That last part was something Weis felt was missing from his first KU team and something he felt was vital for any quality team. That’s why he and his coaching staff emphasized the importance of leadership so much in the offseason and also why they’re willing to step aside and let KU’s leaders lead.

“To have a consistent winning program, you have to have players that are willing to take on the responsibility of leadership,” Weis said. “Because when it’s in the fourth quarter and times are tough and somebody’s gotta pull it together, it’s not Coach Weis yelling from the sideline that’s gonna get it done. It’s gonna be somebody saying something in the huddle that’s gonna get it done.”

The team vote took place on Sunday, with the Jayhawks instructed to vote for one player on their side of the ball and one wildcard that they believed would represent the team well. Heaps, Heeney, Sims and Stowers were by far the top four vote getters — Weis tallied the votes himself — but there were nine other names that garnered enough respect from their teammates for Weis to create a leadership committee.

The other nine — tight end Jimmay Mundine, wide receiver Christian Matthews, running back Tony Pierson, center Pat Lewandowski, defensive end Keba Agostinho, nickel back Cassius Sendish, safety Dexter Linton, buck Darius Willis and holder Blake Jablonski — will not walk out to midfield for the coin toss or earn the asterisk in the media guide that indicates which players were team captains, but they will have a role.

“I think it’s awesome,” Heaps said of KU’s leadership committee. “It’s not just us four being leaders on this team. There are other leadership roles on this team and you need to have those guys.”

Comments

actorman 1 year, 4 months ago

I like the idea of the leadership committee. Not only does it give players another outlet for their concerns, but it gives Weis a chance to honor more players than just the four captains.

ozzzy 1 year, 4 months ago

Pretty awesome that a walk-on (or I guess former walk-on now) can make the leadership committee. Says a lot about the kid.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

The holder is on the leadership committee...I have no problem with that but it does kind of make me chuckle a little.

Maybe Charkie can have a "consultant committee" with a representative from each squad of the team, you know, offense, defense, kick-off and returns, punts and returns, field goals and extra points. if a player has a complaint he can run it by his "consultant" prior to approaching the leadrship guys.

What does that say if you can't feel comfortable approaching a team captain with a complaint.!!??

Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

"Charkie".....if I could type I would be dangerous!! :)

Jack Jones 1 year, 4 months ago

It says just what the article says it says.

Jim Jackson 1 year, 4 months ago

No news on Pearce Slater from coach Weis?

Mark Lindrud 1 year, 4 months ago

I sense a great disturbance in the force

Micky Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm not worried. Pearce Slater signed a letter of intent and is enrolled at Kansas. Not sure why there always has to be so much speculation.

I think if there was news, we'd already know about it.

Sources at OU say that Pearce Slater is not there and that he is not enrolled there.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 4 months ago

I think that the suspense is based on the fact that he left camp and no one's heard boo since. No one is worried that he is in Norman. We are just wondering why he's not here.

Micky Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

There was someone on another article today that said he's at OU... OU officials or sources say he isn't there.

CrystalJones 1 year, 4 months ago

As far as I know, everything is fine. My source isn't too insidery, but let's just say I'm confident there are no worries with Pearce.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 4 months ago

You mean news since "What caught my eye at Day 4 of KU football's fall camp"?

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/tale-tait/2013/aug/11/what-caught-my-eye-at-day-4-of-ku-footba/

Now Kevin Short not being in camp is a bit more worrisome. As always though, Matt is on top of it (http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/tale-tait/2013/aug/19/what-caught-my-eye-at-day-12-of-ku-footb/).

Dirk Medema 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh, that's right, players aren't allowed to have family emergencies.

Micky Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

You're right, Fox Sports has confirmed that Kevin Short is cleared and will be on campus. He was just waiting for the transcript.

JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 4 months ago

Slater practiced with the team last week. There is no way he attends practice without a LOI and all paperwork completed. Once he practiced with KU, he is locked for the rest of the season.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 4 months ago

I think that Atl is right on this one. Slater didn't sign an official LOI. He signed a financial aid agreement. He wouldn't have been practicing at KU if he hadn't enrolled in fall classes, but that doesn't mean that he can't withdraw from the university at any time.

It's highly doubtful that he ends up at OU just because it would be a supreme waste of his time to go there now and have to sit a year, etc and be a in-conference transfer.

But he could wind up back in California, closer to family and even back at JUCO.

We have no reason to assume that he won't be back, but he's missing out on valuable workouts and practice time if he wants to play this season, and that alone could be reason enough for him to choose to head back to JUCO and reopen his recruitment for next fall.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 4 months ago

That's a bit of a reach. In fact, the whole line of responses to one small comment seems way over the top.

Here are the facts: After committing verbally to KU, Slater took a trip to Norman. Shortly after arriving late to camp, he left Lawrence. At the very least, he'll be way behind.

Obviously, no one here wishes the kid or his family anything but the best. But the self-righteous tone of all of you who know better is a little friggin tiresome.

BringBackMark 1 year, 4 months ago

At least this year the voting process for Captains sounds a little more legitimate. Word was last year Charlie had to stuff the ballot box to make sure Crist was voted Captain.

Jim Stauffer 1 year, 4 months ago

I am wondering if someone has an example of a guy signing a financial aid contract, then practicing with the team and then leaving for another team. Now the only concern I have is a guy who is only one year in juco could have viewed the D1 scene and decided he was not ready and returned to juco.

I do not believe he will wind up at another D1 school, but I could be way off base.

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