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BYU football: Is the future now for Heaps?

By Tom Kirkland, KSL Sports Director | Posted - Aug. 2, 2010 at 5:08 p.m.



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PROVO -- With all the uncertainty surrounding BYU and what conference they'll go to, one thing seems certain, Jake Heaps seems to be the quarterback of the future.

And while the coaching staff has gone to great lengths to make sure fans know that four quarterbacks are in the running, it's really down to Logan legend Riley Nelson, and prize recruit, Jake Heaps.

We haven't been able to hear from Jake directly due to Coach Mendenhall's "freshmen silence rule" until the first week, but we got a pretty good idea about Jake's readiness from other players at the Mountain West Conference pre-season meetings.

BYU All-MWC Lineman Matt Reynolds said, "That's going to be something that defines us this year, is who steps in and who steps up and who becomes the new face of BYU."

While head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been "Heap"ing praise on Jake, he's made it clear he isn't the anointed one, yet. Coach Mendenhall even suggested that, while the situation wouldn't be ideal, he may even consider having two starters for a game or two if he hasn't taken a decision through fall camp.

Mountain West Conference player of the year, Andy Dalton, had this to say, having been in the familiar position Heaps is in now, having played as a freshman quarterback at TCU. "You know, to come in early and play is tough, just to be around all the older guys that are in the huddle. To show the leadership that you have to show to play quarterback is tough to do as a freshmen but he's a really talented player. He wouldn't be in that position if he wasn't."

TCU head coach Gary Patterson added this, "You don't have to make all the great plays yet. You just gotta make the plays to help the team win and if you can keep it in that kind of perspective then things turn out a lot better. The quarterback position has never really been a problem for them (BYU) and I'm not expecting it to be this year."

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham admitted this will be a big transition for Heaps, stating that players in that position have to have the right "make-up and mentality to get it done."

Still, it's no secret that the most coveted recruit in the nation chose BYU to play quarterback there right away. Heaps was 40-2 as a starter in high school with more than 9,000 passing yards, 114 touchdown passes and just 18 interceptions, leading Skyline High to three straight high school titles. Coach Mendenhall had this to say about Heaps' level of preparedness coming out of high school:

"Jake has come out of high school more prepared than I thought it would be possible for a young quarterback to be prepared. In Spring, there were many times where I looked and said ‘wait, he's still a high school senior' and by the way he was playing I would have thought he was a red-shirt sophomore at BYU."

Regarding Heaps' preparation, Deseret News BYU Beat writer Dick Harmon said:

"He's a freak when it comes to the film room and all those around (the program) say that the guy can handle it. Physically, he's still got to put on some weight. He's going to take a beating and he's got to get stronger. He's got to get a little bit more muscle mass--his upper body and around. It's going to be interesting to see this develop because it's very rare that BYU puts a freshman in that kind of position."

Mendenhall said, "We have all four quarterbacks' taking reps, especially in camp and we'll try to decide who's most skilled not only in terms of making plays but leading the football team. Can we do that the entire camp? No way. I want to make sure it's the right quarterback, the right leader, and the team knows that as well, and they're going to need to see it."

Heaps' teammates Andrew Rich and Matt Reynolds had this to say about him. "Jake's a great player. Really young. That's what stood out to me is just how good he is at the age that he's at and that's why his name is what it is." said Rich.

All-MWC Offensive Lineman Matt Reynolds said, "Probably the biggest difference from when I met him to now is just confidence. He knows his guys. He's been around us long enough to get to know us and feel like we have gotten to learn to trust him."

Based on Heaps national signing day presence and spring PR tour he clearly loves the publicity that being BYU's quarterback would bring.

Coach Mendenhall clearly thinks that is a good thing. "If a player isn't comfortable, he is going to struggle being at BYU. Jake is comfortable in front of the camera. He's very mature and as a BYU quarterback, he's going to need to be--because it's a visible place."

Tom Kirkland Sports Director

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