In 2010, Jake Heaps was the top ranked high school quarterback in the country by Scout.com. After his senior year at Skyline High School in Issaquah, Washington, where his team won two state championships under his leadership, he was named a Parade All-American, and started the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Heaps signed with BYU out of high school and set freshmen passing records for yards, touchdowns, and wins for the Cougars in 2010. He completed 219 passes in 383 attempts (57.2%) for 2,316 yards, and threw 15 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. He finished the year with a 116.2 quarterback rating, while starting the last 10 games of the season. He was named the offensive MVP in the New Mexico Bowl, when he threw for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Heaps started his sophomore season as the starter but he struggled in games. After five starts, he was replaced by Riley Nelson, whom he had shared the quarterback duties early on in his freshman season before Nelson injured for the season. Nelson played well but was injured a few games later and again Heaps played well in his stead, and made one more start for BYU. When Nelson returned, Heaps returned to the bench.
After the regular season, he decided he would transfer to Kansas.
After sitting out a year as per NCAA transfer rules, Heaps is set to be the man this season for the Jayhawks. He is a record setting quarterback at BYU so he obviously a very talent quarterback. He also carries the baggage of getting benched midway through his sophomore year for not performing as well as he did his initial season.
Head Coach Charlie Weis has a reputation for getting the most out of his quarterbacks. His reputation had to have taken a hit last season after the fiasco that was Dayne Crist. Still, Weis wears Super Bowls rings and has the distinction of the being the only coach to coax anything other than mediocrity out of former Kansas City Chief Matt Cassel.
The Jayhawks have a stable of talented running backs, including James Sims, Tony Pierson, and Darrian Miller. Kansas needs Heaps to direct an effective aerial attack to open up space for those quick, speedy backs. Kansas cannot have zero touchdown production from the wide receiver position. In 2012, the wide receivers caught no touchdowns. Hopefully, Heaps will help reverse that disturbing statistic.
Heaps does mark a drastic upgrade at the quarterback position. Although Heaps played just part time in 2011, his stats were better than the Jayhawks quarterbacks in 2012. Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings were 146 for 311 (46.9%) for just 1769 yards all season. Together, Crist and Cummings threw just 7 touchdowns (none to wide receivers) and 13 interceptions. Cummings did provide 123 yards rushing.
In 2011 for BYU, starting only half the games, Heaps went 144 for 252 (57.1) for 1452 yards. Notice that is just 2 less completions than Crist and Cummings with 59 less attempts. Heaps had 9 passing touchdowns with 8 interceptions, both better numbers than the two Jayhawk signal callers.
Even if Heaps can match his rookie BYU stats, he will be a giant upgrade. Hopefully, maturity and a year under Weis’ tutelage has helped Heaps develop into a much better quarterback than he was at BYU. If Heaps does show improvement and consistency, and he can keep the linebackers and defensive backs out of the box, there is no telling how much damage Sims and company can do running the football.
An improved passing game could make the Jayhawk offense very potent. A more balanced attack, one with an effective passing attack and a lethal running game, should lead to more wins for the Kansas Jayhawk football team.
The Jayhawk season and Charlie Weis’ reputation as a quarterback guru may depend how Jake Heaps performs on Saturdays this fall. As a former number one ranked high school quarterback in the nation and a freshman collegiate record setter, Heaps has the talent. Now he must execute. The Jayhawks’ season and immediate football future depends on it.