Heaps puts quarterback issues to rest

Coach Mendenhall spoke publicly this week about sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps possibly redshirting next season to provide more space between him and current starter Riley Nelson. On Wednesday Heaps addressed that and other concerns.

When Jake Heaps was a junior all-star quarterback for Sky Line High School in Washington, he led his team to victory in the state championship game. He stood off on the side as his team's seniors hoisted the state championship trophy, while he never once touched it. That's the kind of person Heaps has always been. So now that he's been asked to step aside as another takes the glory, what is his position on the matter?

"You know, it's just one of those things," Heaps said. "I mean, a lot of people have those misconceptions about me or whatever, but, hey, that goes with the territory and you can't worry about that. You know who you are and just approach every day and just be yourself. I'm just taking this in stride and making the best of it. That's all I guess I have to really say about that. I'm just taking what I've been given and making the most out of it. That's all I can do."

Heaps feels the struggles and hurdles that he is attempting to overcome can actually help strengthen and solidify the relationship he has with Coach Doman, the one that made the call to sideline him.

"Yeah, yeah it can definitely make or break a relationship and I think we've both handled it really well," Heaps said. "I think through this whole thing that we'll be smiling together and having a good time."

Quarterback prodigy and mentor have had quite a few private and personal conversations together about the struggles and current situation.

"Well, private conversations are private, so …" Heaps said with a smile when asked about them. "We just talked about the season and finishing this season out and going from there. You know, we're excited to go week to week and day to day and just approach practice and work hard."

Heaps has also met with and talked to others about his situation, including Coach Mendenhall.

"We've been meeting on a weekly basis, and I wouldn't say every day, but on a weekly basis," Heaps said. "It's something that he and I wanted to do. More him just to make sure that, you know, I'm doing okay and hanging in there. It's been good to meet with him and talk with him and go through this experience."

Some former Cougar quarterbacks have also reached out to Heaps.

"Yeah, I've talked to Robbie Bosco and we've talked quite a bit," said Heaps. "It's been nice to have him to reach out to and talk to him and it's been great."

Managing and grooming a young talent is a tricky part of being a quarterback coach. Coaches want to give their players experience and allow them room to go through the growing pains while managing expectations and confidence. Redshirting early on did wonders for many of BYU's past quarterback greats.

"Yeah, that's a positive aspect to look at it, you know, taking an opportunity to step back and learn is a big opportunity," Heaps said. "You can take full advantage of it or you can waste it. You know, I plan on making the best out of any situation that's being given to me."

On Tuesday Coach Mendenhall addressed the idea of redshirting Heaps next year.

"I'm just not worried about that right now, and I think everybody else should not even think about whether I'm going to be here or not or redshirt or not or whatever the case might be," said Heaps. "I mean, that's taking away from this team and what we have going on here for us the rest of the season.

"All the guys are worried about and all that I'm worried about is coming to practice today and then coming to practice tomorrow and the next day and then we play Idaho. So, you know, really I'm just taking this day by day and I'm going to give my 100-percent commitment to this team and this program throughout the rest of the season, and that's all I'm focused on."

There have been suggestions that by Heaps not playing, he could lose the skills he's already developed. However, Heaps feels that just the opposite is the case.

"I think you just look back on your game and what you can improve upon and look at your strengths and weaknesses and build up your weaknesses," Heaps said. "You know, you can only grow physically and mentally and, really, take full advantage of it. I think that's the biggest positive that you can have is getting another year of experience and getting another year of being engrossed at the college level and just working hard in front of your teammates."

One topic of debate among fans is whether Heaps would consider transferring if he was asked to redshirt.

"I think it's kind of inappropriate to talk about that right now," Heaps said. "I mean, we've got four weeks left in the season and, you know, I don't think that is something that anybody should be talking about. I'm focused on being here at BYU and giving this team the best that I have."

Heaps is set on preparing himself to be ready for next year in case his number is called upon.

"Yeah, I'm preparing myself and we'll see what happens," he said.

Heaps had more than 30 scholarships offers and could have gone to nearly any college football program in the country. Despite the fact he that is no longer the starting BYU quarterback, he does feel he is right where he needs to be.

"You know, I feel throughout this whole thing that this is an experience that I'm supposed to be going through and that I'm supposed to carry with me throughout my career," Heaps said. "Hopefully this will make me a better player in what I hope to do and plan to do. I'm excited to have this opportunity to learn from and grow and hopefully make the best situation out of it."

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