Former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps is on the move again. What better time than now to reflect on Heaps’ time in Provo?
In the spring of 2009, morale around the BYU program was low. BYU’s rival, Utah, had just completed their second undefeated season with a win in the Sugar Bowl over Alabama, in a season that was set up for BYU to be the “BCS Busters”. Then there was TCU who was emerging as a powerhouse in the Mountain West Conference after giving BYU one of the worst losses the program had suffered against a league foe.
All of this took away from the fact that BYU was returning one of the best Cougar teams in years for the 2009 season. One more year with Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, and a cast of other future NFL players was nice; but where was the future of the program? Who was going to be the next quarterback to lead BYU over Utah and TCU?
In comes Jake Heaps from Skyline High School in Issaquah, Washington.
We all know how things played out on the field for Heaps at BYU, and most recently Kansas. Heaps is now off to Coral Gables to play for the Miami Hurricanes in his final season of eligibility. Will Heaps play for the Hurricanes? Who knows? He’s going to have a great opportunity due to the glaring hole at QB on The Real U’s depth chart. But what we’ve seen on the field during Heaps’ college career leaves some question marks.
The fascinating part about Heaps going to Miami, is the fact that he is getting another chance at a major FBS program. When it was announced he’d be transferring from Kansas, my initial thought is that he would end up at a small FBS program, or an FCS squad. To have a shot at a program like Miami speaks to Heaps’ high school accolades, Miami’s desperate need for a QB, and probably Heaps’ publicist. Does he still have that guy around?
It’s been five years now since Heaps, Zac Stout, and Ross Apo all pledged their commitment to BYU at Iggy’s Sports Bar & Grill off 300 South in downtown Salt Lake City. The decision to announce at Iggy’s came with a lot of scrutiny -for obvious reasons- but I thought it was a great thing. The intent was in the right place. Heaps, Stout, and Apo wanted to use their lofty recruiting status as a springboard to get other elite talent to join them in Provo. This wasn’t a LeBron James “Decision” deal where King James left his potential suitors hanging; Heaps handled this with as much class you would expect from a high school kid. Heaps notified the hometown Huskies of Washington before his announcement, and he also reached out to Nick Montana who was considering the Huskies to let him know of his commitment.
Heaps always dreamt of being a college football quarterback. Who wouldn’t want to hold a presser announcing where they are going to play college football? That’s the stuff you dream of as a kid nowadays. The only drawback is that it put a target on this “Iggy’s Trio” from the start. Terms like National Championship were being thrown around with these guys. Yeah there were lofty expectations, but if there was anyone who could handle the pressure, it seemed like Jake Heaps was the man for the job.
I remember following Heaps’ recruitment and thinking, regardless of where this kid ends up, he is bound to be a star. Heaps was the next Marc Wilson coming down from the northwest to lead BYU at quarterback, and eventually get selected high in the NFL Draft. The hype with Heaps went beyond the highlight packages. The kid spoke like a fifth-year college kid, and he had yet to start a day of his senior year in high school when he committed to BYU. The talent, the knowledge, the personality, the PR savvy, this kid truly had it all. Heaps had single-handily turned BYU’s melancholic fan base to one that was ready to hoist the crystal ball in the spring of ’09.
The crystal balls were never added to the trophy case with Jake Heaps in Provo as well know. Instead we were left with a 54-10 shellacking to those rivals from the north, questions about Heaps’ work ethic, and a quarterback who was benched, yet still had a member of the football support staff handing him his Zephyr flat-bill BYU hat. It wasn’t the glitz and glamour we all thought we’d see from Heaps while wearing BYU Blue. Yeah we saw the freshman quarterback record book shattered but that was all a moot point as the negativity and low morale I alluded to earlier was creeping back into the program.
I’ve sometimes wondered what would have been for BYU had Heaps stayed around. The 2012 season is what stands out to me where Heaps would have made a difference. Heaps under center likely gets BYU another win or two with how good the Cougar defense was that season. But then you look at the 2013 schedule and think, does BYU tear apart Texas like they did with Taysom Hill if Heaps was still around? Probably not. It’s all in the past now, and it has worked out for BYU as they return Hill who has a full season under his belt as the starting quarterback. But it’s always interesting to ask what if? Maybe the biggest what if involving Heaps is if Riley Nelson had not led one of his gritty comebacks in the 2011 spring game, does the locker room become captivated to play for those golden locks? But I digress.
I wish Heaps the best at Miami. Since he’s left BYU, he’s been nothing but complimentary about BYU and the program as a whole. It just didn’t work out in Provo. Hopefully he gets a chance to tear it up at Miami. It’s his last shot to live up to those lofty expectations he had coming out of Skyline High. Reviving the Real U. would be quite the feather in Heaps’ cap -no hat boy needed- if he can pull it off.
What’s your thoughts on Jake Heaps’ time at BYU, and do you think Heaps will fare well at Miami? Post your thoughts in the comments section or tweet us @LawlessRepublic to make your voice heard.