Jake Heaps

STOCK UP:

DT Chris Whaley (Sr.)

The big man in the middle of the Longhorn defense has been everywhere lately, returning a third-quarter fumble 40 yards to the house against Kansas on Saturday, his second momentum-turning touchdown in the last three games. Prior to Whaley’s 40-yard scamper — he was recruited as a running back, after all — the Longhorns were up 14-6 and struggling to distance themselves from the lowly Jayhawks, who are winless in the Big 12. Fueled by the senior’s deceptive speed and knack to make heads-up plays, the Longhorns were handed a comfortable lead that they didn’t relinquish.

 

DE Cedric Reed (Jr.)

Speaking of defensive linemen making plays, did you happen to notice who caused the fumble that Whaley recovered? Reed was a force against the Jayhawks, sacking quarterback Jake Heaps twice and harassing him all game. Although he only had two sacks in the past four games, the Reed has provided a consistent threat opposite Jackson Jeffcoat and helped this Texas defense develop a nasty attitude upfront. If he can put it all together and continue to play like he did against Kansas, watch out — this once-maligned defense will really start turning heads.

 

RB Malcolm Brown (Jr.)

If it wasn’t clear before, it sure is now — Malcolm Brown is back, and he loves playing the Jayhawks. The junior out of Cibolo ran like a man possessed on Saturday, racking up 119 rushing yards and four touchdowns for the Longhorns. That performances marks the second time Brown has had a huge day against the Jayhawks, as he also ran for 119 yards to go along with two touchdowns in a victory in 2011. Having scored six touchdowns in the past two games, it’s obvious he has emerged as Texas’ primary goal-line threat.

 

STOCK DOWN:

QB Case McCoy (Sr.)

Although McCoy has been the talk of the town lately after leading the Longhorns to a stunning upset over the Oklahoma Sooners and a crushing victory over TCU, he has struggled with inconsistent play and costly turnovers. Saturday marked the second straight game he has thrown multiple interceptions, giving him five in the past three games. With the way Longhorns have been dominating their opponents with a punishing running game, McCoy needs to realize that protecting the football comes first and foremost.

 

WR Mike Davis (Sr.)

Mike who? This isn’t the first time Davis has appeared on this list, and for good reason. The senior wideout has been a ghost, topping 60 yards only once in the past five games while netting a single touchdown. “Magic” has been anything but lately, as his one reception for five yards against Kansas showed.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

For most members of Kansas’ young squad, this weekend will mark their first taste of action inside Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.

But not junior quarterback Jake Heaps.

Back in 2011, his highly anticipated sophomore campaign, Heaps nearly led BYU to an upset of the then-No. 24 Longhorns.

Heaps struggled. But so did David Ash and Case McCoy and — who could forget? — Garrett Gilbert in his final game in a Longhorn uniform.

It took a late second-half rally for Texas to avoid the upset against an upstart BYU team and young quarterback. At the time, everything was going right for Heaps, a quarterback prodigy at the school his mom was a cheerleader for and his grandfather a player.

But the good times didn’t last long. By season’s end, he was leaving the peaks of Utah for the plains of Kansas.

“I think he was a broken individual,” says Taylor Barton, a long-time friend and quarterback coach to the Kansas City Star. “I think everything he went through on and off the field out there, I think really, he was beat down, and he was almost a defeated person.” 

Coming out of Skyline high school in Washington, Heaps was the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, according to Rivals.com, and led his team to three consecutive state championships. He even graduated early to compete for the starting quarterback job during spring practice.

When starter Riley Nelson was injured against Florida State, Heaps took over. He struggled at first, winning just one of his first four starts, but began to find his stride.

In the final six games of his freshman year, he won five and was named MVP of the New Mexico Bowl. He threw 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions while posting a quarterback rating of at least 100 in all six games, setting nearly every BYU freshman quarterback record.

The 2011 campaign, however, was rough. It the downhill spiral started with a loss to Texas. Four interceptions and just one touchdown later, he found himself back on the sideline watching Nelson win eight of nine contests.

“It was excruciating,” Heaps told the Star. “I’m a big-time competitor, and that was the first time I’ve sat out since … ever.”

Instead of fighting back for the quarterback role, Heaps took the easy way out.

“If Jake Heaps isn’t embarrassed about transferring from BYU to a school to be named later,” one Utah columnist wrote. “Then he ought to be.” 

Heaps decided to transfer to Kansas and play for Charlie Weis, sitting out the year required by players transferring from one FBS school to another. The Jayhawks went 1-11 last season, sparking a brutally assessment of the team by Weis during Big 12 Media Days this summer.

“Everyone wants to play,” Weis said. “There’s no one that wants to not play. I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that?’ So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. And that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical.”

That’s exactly the type of situation Heaps was
looking for.

He was the starter from the get-go on a team that didn’t have a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass. But the numbers haven’t followed the playing time.

He has put up more than 200 yards just once this season. He has thrown one — and exactly one — touchdown each game. Considering that Heaps is playing for a team that is playing from behind nearly the whole game, that’s not very impressive.

And after three straight losses and subpar performances, he was benched for freshman Montell Cozar last week against Baylor.

“They didn’t give us any trouble,” Baylor senior nose tackle Sam Holl said after the win of the Kansas quarterbacks.

Weis, once again, was not pleased.

“It’s not a perfect world playing both quarterbacks,” Weis said after the Baylor loss. “I think that it’s going to be more and more the same as it was tonight as we go. Rather than worry about settling into one, we have to get them both ready to play.”

And if neither of them turn it around against Texas or the rest of the season, UCLA transfer T.J Millweard will be the Jayhawks’ next quarterback of the future.

Heaps will try to do his part to make sure that doesn’t happen — again.

Jake Heaps ready, eager to take over under center for Jayhawks

DALLAS – Unlike most of the other teams in the Big 12, Kansas did not have a potent passing attack last season. The Jayhaws were one of three FBS teams to complete fewer than half of their throws in 2012, the others being Southern Miss and Army.

First-year head coach Charlie Weis brought in Dayne Crist, who transferred from Notre Dame, where Weis originally recruited him as the Jayhawks limped to a 1-11 record. They beat FCS squad South Dakota State in the season opener and lost their final 11 games, following up their lone win by falling victim to a game-winning field goal in a loss to Rice the next week.

Crist and backup Michael Cummings combined to throw seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions. An effective running game spearheaded by James Sims and Tony Pierson wasn’t enough.

“Last year, every team we played knew we were going to run the ball,” linebacker Ben Heeney said. “They knew that’s what we were going to do because we couldn’t pass it last year.”

All Jake Heaps could do was watch.

“It was excruciating,” Heaps, who transferred to Kansas from BYU in 2011, said. “It was really hard to not be able to help my teammates out and battle with them. As a competitor and a guy that loves the game of football, it was hard for me… It was the best and worst thing for me. It was the best thing to happen for me but the worst thing in the moment.

While sitting out in 2012, Heaps couldn’t contribute on Saturdays but helped Kansas prepare for opponents by torching the first-team defense as the scout-team quarterback. Now the Jayhawks are hoping Heaps will have similar success against opponents this upcoming season.

“He was tearing us up sometimes,” Heeney admitted. “He would make a walk-on freshman receiver look like a Heisman Trophy candidate. He would just put the ball right on the money. Guys would catch the ball. Jake last year would tear our defense apart, using scout team receivers. I’m just excited to see what he’ll do in real games now.”

Heaps was the top quarterback coming out of high school in 2010, according to rivals.com, He passed for 3,768 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 57 percent of his passes in two seasons with BYU before being replaced as the team’s starting quarterback and deciding to transfer to Kansas. He was forced to sit out in 2012, per NCAA transfer rules.

“You can either take it easy because you know you’re not going to play that year or you can get better. That’s what I chose to do,” Heaps said. “The moment I set foot on campus I just approached myself like I was the starting quarterback.”

One of two quarterbacks representing their teams at Big 12 Media Days, the other being  Texas’ David Ash, Heaps will finally get that chance to be a starting quarterback again. 

The Stat Guy: BYU and TexasÂ’ quarterbacks have had similar careers

Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in BYU's 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week. (Photo courtesy of BYU Photo)
Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in BYU's 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week. (Photo courtesy of BYU Photo)

Brigham Young, Texas’ opponent this Saturday night, is known for the birth of the spread offense in college football courtesy of LaVell Edwards, BYU’s all-time winningest coach. The Cougars air the ball out and have done so for years. With quarterbacks such as Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, John Beck and Max Hall, it is no surprise that BYU has earned a reputation as one of the top quarterback factories in the country.

Sophomore Jake Heaps is the Cougars’ latest product. Heaps was a top quarterback in the 2010 class, and he brings a lot to the table in terms of poise and throwing accuracy. The same was said of the Longhorns’ Garrett Gilbert in 2009. So just what kind of quarterback battle will be in store for this weekend? Let’s take a look at the stats.

To start, both Gilbert and Heaps led their high schools to multiple state championships. Heaps, who hails from Washington, passed for 9,196 yards and 114 touchdowns from 2007-09 while at Skyline High School. Gilbert holds the Texas high school record for passing yards with 12,540, which he set in three years as a starter at nearby Lake Travis High School from 2006-08.

Both quarterbacks were Parade All-Americans. Heaps came out of a pro-style offense in high school, whereas Gilbert was accustomed to the spread. And yet, both quarterbacks were sent into opposite situations than they became accustomed to in high school: BYU runs the power spread, whereas Texas ran (or tried to) a more pro-style rushing attack in 2010.

Heaps was thrown into the fire early last season as a true freshman, replacing an injured Riley Nelson against Florida State in 2010. The Cougars lost the game 34-10 but gained confidence in Heaps, who posted admirable stats (15-31, 114 yards, one touchdown). Not eye-popping numbers, but in the not-so-welcoming environment Doak Campbell Stadium is, they’ll do. Gilbert put up similar numbers in his first official collegiate start at Rice (14-23, 172 yards), and everyone knows the hostility Reliant Stadium brings on a fall Saturday.

Heaps went on to start the rest of the season for the Cougars, who finished strong at a 7-6 record, defeating UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, 52-24. Heaps compiled 2,316 yards passing and broke the all-time freshman touchdown record at BYU (Ty Detmer, 11) with 15 scores. Heaps posted a 57.2 completion percentage, finishing the season with a 116.2 passer rating. Gilbert, on the other hand, finished 2010 with 2,744 yards passing, a 59 percent completion. Better yardage but not a better win-loss record.

Heaps entered the 2011 season with assurance he’d be the starting quarterback, whereas Gilbert had to fight for his position. This past weekend, BYU traveled to Ole Miss to take on the Rebels in a daring preseason matchup. Heaps completed 24 of 38 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown as the Cougars came from behind to a 14-13 victory. Not to be outdone, Gilbert passed for 239 yards and a touchdown against the Owls on Saturday. The two quarterbacks have almost mirrored each other statistically over the past season, even coming down to physical stature (Heaps 6 feet 2 inches, 210 lbs.; Gilbert 6 feet 4 inches, 215 lbs.).

This Saturday, the two quarterbacks will clash. Don’t be surprised if Heaps exposes Texas’ young cornerbacks early because unlike Rice, BYU will throw the ball downfield often. However, if the two quarterbacks maintain their likeness, expect similar statistics from Gilbert.

Printed on September 8, 2011 as: Quarterbacks share similar statistics, stories

Up-and-coming sophomore quarterback looks like Cougars' next great gunslinger

Rogelio V. Solis | Associated Press

There have been some great quarterbacks in BYU’s storied football history, including NFL legends Steve Young and Jim McMahon, which lends itself well to the school’s unofficial nickname “Quarterback U.”

The latest in the line of succession of Cougar quarterbacks is Jake Heaps. Coming out of high school in Washington, Heaps was the No. 1-rated quarterback in the country and chose BYU in part because of its rich history of producing signal callers.

“There have been a lot of great quarterbacks that have come out of here, and to be a part of this tradition is really a blessing and I really wanted to be a part of that,” Heaps said.
However, the tradition that comes with being a BYU quarterback brings high expectations. Those expectations, coupled with Heap’s hype coming in, places a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

That pressure mounted early in his freshman year, as he was thrust into a quarterback competition in camp for the starting job with Riley Nelson. In the end, head coach Bronco Mendenhall went with the controversial decision to use a two quarterback system, to utilize the dual-threat talents of Nelson and Heaps’ pro-style abilities to the
fullest advantage.

This solution was frustrating to Heaps, especially after being the go-to-guy in high school for so long, leading his team to three state titles and being so highly touted coming into BYU.

“It was definitely a humble pill to take, to go from being the man to having to split time.” Heaps said. “It was definitely difficult, but I learned a lot and would not give the experience I gained my first year back for anything.”

The experiment ended rather quickly, however, after Nelson was injured in an early season game against Florida State. This gave Heaps the opportunity to grab the spotlight. He struggled with it at first, as the team went 1-3 in his first starts as the full time signal caller.

“When I took over we were starting from scratch on developing the offense to scheme around me and what my strengths are, and in the first half you really saw us struggle offensively to find our chemistry,” he said.

However, as Heaps grew more comfortable leading the offense and the team around him, they started winning. Finishing the season on a 5-1 run, capping it off with a 52-24 thumping of UTEP in their bowl game, in which Heaps was named the MVP.

That final string of victories last season gave Heaps real confidence in his ability to not only play but to lead at the Division-1 level.

“It built some huge confidence in me to show I can come out here and play with these guys,” Heaps said. “That was a rough season but there were a lot of positives to take out of the way we finished.”

Heaps went into the offseason and worked hard, focusing on footwork and mechanics and watching film. Between that work ethic and his full year of experience, many around the program are saying he has a new level of maturity around him.

But he would argue it wasn’t so much a change in him, but rather in others adjusting to being around him and getting to know his personality.

“It was a tough situation to come into being a highly touted recruit coming in, guys had a prejudgment of who I was and what I was about before I met them,” Heaps said. “But as they slowly got to be around me they got to know who I was. So really I didn’t change a whole lot it’s just the maturity factor of getting more game reps and guys being around me and getting to know who I am is the difference.”

The confidence and maturity that he had gained through his freshman year came in handy against Ole Miss, Week 1. The offense was stagnant in the first half, but he was to rally the team in the second half, getting them to start moving the ball — something that might not have happened in his freshman year.

Heaps will now look to lead his Cougars through an even tougher test in Austin, where he will face a talented Texas defense that will force him to put to use what he has learned through his first year.

However if they can get past the Longhorns on Saturday, he feels that the game could be a springboard to reaching their goal of BCS game.

“Our goal is to get to a BCS game for sure, that’s what we have our eyes set on; but right now we’re just going to worry about Texas,” Heaps said.

If he can manage to help bring BYU to a BCS game, the hype over Heaps might explode past former Cougar basketball star, Jimmer Fredette levels. He is someone he finds himself compared to nowadays, thanks to their similar stature and success at their positions.

Although he admits he is far from being on Jimmer’s level as a player, he is honored by the comparisons.

“For me for those comparisons to be drawn, I’m far from that status, but I’m going to work my tail off to be at that level one day,” he said.