Monday, July 22, 2013

KU’s Jake Heaps out to prove he can be a top QB

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps conducts interviews during a breakout session at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps conducts interviews during a breakout session at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.


— Of the 34 players who made their way to the Omni Hotel for this year’s Big 12 media days, only Kansas University junior Jake Heaps and Texas sophomore David Ash were quarterbacks.


Associated Press

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps conducts interviews during a breakout session at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

For a league that has been known for names such as Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin III and dozens more, seeing the quarterback torch resting in the hands of a transfer from BYU and an often-criticized option in Austin, Texas, is a bit strange.

The SEC has Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. The ACC has Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. The Pac-12 has Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Heck, even the newly formed American Athletic Conference has Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

Although the Big 12’s top passers may not be as well-known as those talents, Heaps isn’t worried.

“I think it’s great,” he said Monday during a two-hour breakout session in the Omni Ballroom. “I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of unproven guys to go out there and show what they’re capable of. At the end of the season, I think you guys will see that there’s not a drop-off in talent, there’s just a lot of guys that need to go out there and play their first year.”

Heaps is one of those guys, and in many ways this is the moment he has been waiting for since his senior year at Skyline High near Seattle. Sure, back then he was a five-star prospect and pretty much had his choice of colleges. And, yeah, he did rewrite the freshman passing record book at BYU back in 2010. But even when things seemed to be going well on the field, Heaps was striving to be better. That’s why he studied game film of NFL stars Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and tried to model his game after Drew Brees. That’s why he soaked up every second he could with former BYU greats Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco, Marc Wilson and Gifford Nielsen. And that’s why he still has relationships with many of those guys today. It all led to this point in time and this place and this responsibility in this conference.

“I think there’s different things you can take from a lot of quarterbacks, and I’ve taken the good and the bad from people,” Heaps said. “It’s just an honor to be in the Big 12 with these quarterbacks and with the expectation that, when you play quarterback in the Big 12, you must be one of the elite. That means a lot to me.”

Proving that he belongs with the best means so much to Heaps — because of the victories and feelings of accomplishment that come with them, not the ego boost — that he continues to strengthen his work ethic, which teammates have said is among the best on the team.

Heaps said Monday he never has put in the extra effort that he is these days. And that’s saying something considering he once spent every weekend of every offseason from 6th grade through 12th grade driving seven hours roundtrip from Seattle to Portland on the same day just to work out with a quarterback trainer.

“I just love the game that much,” he said. “And I want to be the best I can be and be the best quarterback, and I’m willing to work for it. In my time at Kansas so far, I’ve just worked so hard and I think that’s what’s going to lead me to be successful.”

Heaps isn’t alone in believing he can live up to the standard that comes with playing quarterback in the Big 12.

“Most definitely,” said KU senior tailback James Sims. “I think Jake will make a big impact in this conference.”

Added junior defensive back Cassius Sendish: “People will greatly appreciate Jake Heaps. I don’t want to make any predictions for him because he’s his own quarterback. But I’m really looking forward to watching him play and watching him blossom.”

If that does, in fact, happen, no one would be less surprised than KU coach Charlie Weis, who has believed in Heaps since he recruited him out of high school and is ready for him to step into a starring role at Kansas.

“At the quarterback position there’s really two major things, one off the field and one on the field,” Weis said. “The greatest physical attribute, by far, is accuracy. Off the field it’s leadership. And he’s got those two things. If you have those two things, everything else falls into place.”


JHWKDW 9 months ago

I always wonder if Todd Reesing as his QB coach could do some good.


Ralster Jayhawk 9 months ago

I'll take a college impersonation of "Drew Brees". Just find the target(s), and this time around, let's hope the receiver corps actually catch some passes...


shelleysue 9 months ago

I think for most of us it's pretty difficult to get overly excited considering what happened with Crist. He looked great on paper, Weis had the utmost confidence in him, and he was a team leader. And then a total letdown. I really hate to take that out on Heaps though, because he's not Crist. I remain cautiously optimistic and hope for the best. Last year we only had one win but for me at least, there were a lot of fun moments. Great plays, close games, more excitement. I've said this before - during the Gill years I was depressed on the drive TO Lawrence pretty much every week. At least last year I felt some level of hope every week. One thing about this team is the over abundance of bulletin board material. I sure hope they use it for motivation and shut all the critics the hell up. Rock Chalk!!


Dale Stringer 9 months ago

Ok, all the anti-Crist people need to pull back and take another look. Yes, he made plenty of boneheaded throws. He also made some exceptional ones where any receiver with opposable thumbs could have caught, but didn't somehow. There were plenty of reasons that none of the WRs didn't catch a TD pass; eye-hand coordination being a big one of them. I still agonize over the beautiful pass Crist threw to a WR, over the inside shoulder of one defender and over the outside shoulder of another and the WR (Turelli??) watched the ball all the way into his facemask without putting a hand up.

Hopefully, both QB and WR positions are upgraded. It looks that way, but we won't know until game time.


jbh4 9 months ago

I am a big BYU fan and have followed Heaps career for some time now. He handled everything very professionally and hasn't spoken negatively about BYU since leaving. I truly hope he has a great career at Kansas and is able to make the transition to the next level. Atljaybird is 100% correct in relation to the attitude, mental and fear issues.. There were rumors that he wouldn't work out with the team in the summer and just wasn't a leader.. Players began to lose respect, then the performance faltered, and he was on the way out. He needed a new start and I believe he's grown up a lot and he'll succeed at Kansas. Don't judge him in practice and spring games when he knows he's not going to get hit... Heaps looked like the second coming of Elway in practice... Unbelievable arm strength, can make all the throws, says all the right things, etc. If you look back at his stats he had great games against the new mexico's, San Jose state's, etc but when there was a big game (with the exception of utah his freshman year) he played scared. He was jumpy, wouldn't stand in the pocket, got rid of the ball so fast receivers didn't have a chance to get downfield, and was quite honestly inaccurate. He seemed scared to get hit.. (Watch highlights of the Utah game his sophomore year).. Nelson came in mid year and played tough, stood in the pocket, took hits and won games. Nelson was nowhere near the talent of Heaps, but he played with heart. Heaps didn't handle that too well given his pedigree, there were some words with coaches and I believe his mind was made up. I hope he has overcome the fear issue and is able to showcase his talent. You'll know quickly if he takes a few hits and is willing to stay in the pocket than he's overcome it.. I expect him to play good/great your first 4 games but you'll know after the TCU game if he's the same guy.. I'll be watching. Good luck!


Matthew Pyle 9 months ago

Crist was just awful. He single handedly lost us two conference games. If Heaps is half as good as the hype we will surprise some teams.


CrystalJones 9 months ago

"When you play quarterback in the Big 12, you must be one of the elite."

I LOVE that he already considers himself to be elite. It shows that he's got the kind of swagger that all great quarterbacks have. Call it arrogance if you want, but the fact is that KU has a 5-STAR QUARTERBACK who already thinks he's one of the best, if not THE best. This guy will be in the NFL...maybe sooner that we want him to be.


Randy Maxwell 9 months ago

Ash is mediocre at best. Heaps and Pachall at TCU are the two best in the league


Chris Bailey 9 months ago

Ash is a Junior as well. Just sayin. He was the MVP of the 2011 Holiday bowl and started most of last season.


Bewareofthephog Fifety-Five 9 months ago

There is no way he can be as bad as Crist. Even so I am not going to get my hopes up.


Keith Hummel 9 months ago

It is impossible not to get excited about watching this kid play this fall. Especially when you consider what he did at BYU, what we've heard about him from the coaches, and what we've seen already in the spring games. If we get even average play from him this year we will win games and surprise people.

But of course Heaps has the potential to be WAY better than average. At BYU he broke Ty Detmer's 22 year-old freshman touchdown record with 15 TD's and threw for 2,316 yards. All of last year Crist threw for 4 TD's, none of them to a Wide Receiver. Had we not gone through the hype and subsequent disappointment last year with Crist I think we would all be boasting about Heaps and our "explosive" offense right now. Give this kid a few games to work off the rust, develop some receiver chemistry, and get into a groove, and I think we will see something special.

Yes, there are questions about the OL, but if anyone can get the road-graters up to speed Grunhard can. Yes there are questions about our receivers, but imagine how much better they would look this year if better passes had been thrown their way last year. We have, hands-down, the best running backs in the league, THE most explosive player in Pierson, and one of the better up-and-coming TE's in Mundine. The possibilities are endless. I can't wait for that first game to see how it all plays out.


jhox 9 months ago

I noticed the arm strength and accuracy, immediately, at the spring game two years ago, and I've been excited to see him play in a real game since then. You never know how a guy will play when it is "for real", but there was no mistaking the natural ability he has. I had NFL season tickets for 17 years, and I'm not sure I saw anyone who could get a ball to a sideline receiver with the zip Heaps had that day. I don't think we'll see many corners jumping routes on this guy. Lets just hope the line can give him a little more protection than last year's line gave our QB's.


nuleafjhawk 9 months ago

I apologize for not doing my homework, but how did this fellow go from being a five star high school prospect with his choice of colleges to playing at Kansas ? Was it injury? Attitude? I'm just curious.


HawkNut 9 months ago

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JHWKDW 9 months ago

Good Luck Heaps! We need you to step up! With the running game you got possibly behind you, and if they are doing well, man you could possibly get some big numbers.

Well stay focused and best of luck man!


David Leathers 9 months ago

I'm with you actorman. I can't wait to see this team play. They may not be a USC, or an Alabama, but they are my Jayhawks and seeing them improve will satisfy my greatly. Weis is a good coach with a plan the seems to be heading in the right direction, but soon (I hope) people will be calling this a great hire. I hope he stays around long enough for a sustained success to develop.


actorman 9 months ago

Is it September yet??? I am PSYCHED for the season to begin!


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