Washington QB Is Ready For Higher Challenge

There is a lot that comes with being a high profile college quarterback. There's publicity, fame and an awful lot of attention. Yet for quarterback Jake Heaps, those trivial things can be used to serve a greater purpose, and that exactly what he intends to do.

Jake Heaps has been developing his quarterback skills for quite some time now. Although he'll be a part of the 2010 recruiting class, the Skyline High School quarterback from Issaquah, Washington already has a very profound understanding of what it means to have the privilege of being in a position to affect the lives of others around him.

"It's a very special thing," said Heaps. "When you're a quarterback at BYU, you're not just playing quarterback for a college. Everybody is watching you and you're representing your beliefs and your people who are watching what you do. When you play at a national level, especially at BYU, everyone is watching what you do, so you have to be more than just a football player, and I would love to take that challenge.

"It's something that is very intriguing. I look at those BYU quarterbacks and they have a lot more on their shoulders than other quarterbacks at the college level, and I really respect that. Looking at those guys being the great people that they are and the great quarterbacks that they are, it's just an honor for me to have that chance to become that person."

Although there has been a lot of time, sweat and hard work that has gone into developing his personal talents, Heaps places a lot of what he has been given squarely on the shoulders of his Heavenly Father.

"Without Heavenly Father in my life, none of this would be possible," said Heaps. "I look back at all the things that have happened for me and all the opportunities that I have, [and] they're nothing more than blessings that Heavenly Father has put in my life. I thank God every day for giving me those opportunities. I'm humbled and honored and will try and be the best person that I can be and honor him by giving back what he's given me."

Heaps said he feels one reason he's been blessed with his talents is to have a positive effect on people's lives, and has indicated that as the future begins to open up more clearly to him, he can become a tool in the hands of the Almighty carpenter.

"It's much bigger than just playing football and being a good football player," said Heaps. "It's not about being a celebrity down at BYU. It's about taking a great, great responsibility and putting it on your shoulders, to not just be a great football player and lead BYU to another national championship, but you're a person that people are watching. It's about having the power to influence people and be in a position where people are looking upon you. It's a very big deal and it's something I really respect."

Like many LDS kids from Utah, Heaps will be heading down to the Las Vegas Camp to compete and showcase his talents against some of the top athletes from the western region.

"I'm really looking forward to playing against some of the best players in the country, especially in my region," said Heaps. "This is an opportunity for me to play against the best, and that's what I'm going to do. This gives me the chance to see where I'm at and where I need to improve. This seven-on-seven camp will give me a chance to do that. I expect to go down there and have some fun, but I also expect to go down there and win it all. It's going to be all business when we're playing."

Two fellow teammates that will also be heading down with Heaps are wide receivers Gino Simone and Kasen Williams.

"They're both studs," said Heaps. "Gino is the type of wide receiver that you want on your team. He is an all-around [player] who works hard and is very picky with himself and always wants to do the right thing. He really takes pride in what he does, and on the field no one can touch him. He wants the ball so bad out there that he's going to take it from people.

"Kasen played as a wide receiver for us last year as a freshman. He started in the state championship game and caught five balls for 115 yards. He's a very raw athlete, but as an eighth grader he would have won the high jump in our [high school] district … He's a phenomenal athlete and is going to be one of the top players in his class. I think they both could be good BYU-fit guys. I think Gino would fit well in the BYU role, and I think Kasen could be a phenomenal player at BYU. They're both good players and outstanding character guys."

Shifting gears towards BYU, Heaps' recruiting coach is the lovable Coach Reynolds. However, he has been visited at times from BYU's quarterback coach, Coach Doman, as well. Heaps feels he has a special relationship with Coach Doman.

"Both of those guys are awesome," said Heaps. "I love working with Coach Doman [at the BYU summer camps], I love talking to him, and he is someone that I get along with really, really well. I really enjoy being around Coach Doman … He's somebody that I think could help me be a better quarterback, and I'm really enjoying the relationship that I have with him right now. It's really fun and I'm really looking forward to the chance that I have to go up there."

Heaps will be taking an unofficial visit to BYU during spring practice. Although the young gunslinger is excited to get down to BYU, he will take a business approach to the opportunity.

"I'm really intrigued and they're building such a great program down there," said Heaps. "I want to see how the coaches talk to the players and how they coach them up. I want to see the players down there and I'm really intrigued to see what the relationship is between those guys and get a feel for what BYU is really like."

During his visit to BYU, Heaps wants to get a feel for what BYU is truly like. He mentioned that a feeling of comfort and belonging is what he is primarily looking for. He wants to get a feel for the demeanor of the players and how they interact with one another as well as with the coaches.

"If I'm going to go to a university, I want to know the inside and out," Heaps said. "I want to get a really good understanding and see what kind of people are down there to see if I like it. I want to see how I relate to those guys and that kind of stuff. I've talked with the coaches and all that stuff, but this is a chance for me to go down there and get better acquainted with them and go down there and talk to them about things. It will be a chance for me to really get to know the coaching staff that much better. I'm really looking forward to it."

Like a kid before his trip to Disneyland, Heaps is excited about his trip to BYU.

"I'm really excited to go down there and I'm ecstatic about heading on down and everything," said Heaps. "It's almost like I'm going to enjoy it, but at the same time it's almost like a business trip, you know. I'm going down there to see what BYU is really all about. I've gotten to be around the program and I really like what I see. I'm excited about how the program is doing and how they looked this past year. I just want to get a better feel of how they do things down there. I'm really excited to go down there to BYU and see all aspects of BYU. I'm looking to gain something from my visit, and that's what I'm really looking for. I'm super excited about it."

Along with the offer from BYU, Heaps also has an offer from the University of Washington.

"At Washington, they have great tradition much like BYU," Heaps said. "They have a lot of good history and they're a program on the rise. Coach Willingham has gotten a lot of good recruits and they're just trying to get things together. Hopefully they can pull out a good year. I really like Coach Willingham a lot and he and Coach Mendenhall remind me a lot of each other. They have a lot of the same aspects. They keep their Christian values and are respectful people. They have that high character about them and those are the type of people that you really respect, and they're great people to work with."

BYU and Washington aren't the only schools that have shown interest in Heaps.

"I talked to USC and I've talked with their recruiting coach for this area," said Heaps. "I've talked with Coach Sarkisian and Coach Carroll for about fifteen minutes. I'll be visiting down there at the end of the month, along with UCLA."

So what did Coach Carroll talk to Heaps about?

"He said they loved my highlight tape and that they're really excited about recruiting me," said Heaps. "They think that I'm a very, very talented quarterback, especially for my age. They want me to come down to their camp and talk with me and work with me."

Another team that appears to have taken an interest in Heaps is the Florida Gators.

"I haven't had direct contact with Florida," Heaps said. "They've sent me letters and have talked with Coach Gervais. I know they're interested and that they liked what they saw on my highlight tape. They want me to come down to their camp as well, so I think I'll be heading on down there in June."

Recently, former Skyline High School head coach Steve Gervais was hired by Tyron Willingham of the Washington Huskies to be their new running backs coach.

"It was really hard for me, but I'm really excited for [Gervais]." said Heaps of his coach's new job. "He's coached high school for 30-some years and he really deserves this opportunity to coach at the college level, so I'm happy for him. At the same time, he was such a great coach and I only got the chance to work with him for one year. He really helped to develop me to be a field general and know what's going on out there on the field. He's shaped me to become a better quarterback and I wish I could have had a couple more years with him. But at the same time he's going on to a whole new journey, a whole new path. That just makes me have to work harder and step my game up more and stay focused and not lose anything."

With the hiring of Heaps' former head coach to Washington, many BYU fans are wondering if the Huskies now have the inside track for his services.

"I want to just tell the BYU nation that they don't have to worry about it," said Heaps. "I'm evaluating every school the same way. I am really excited for Coach Gervais to get that opportunity, but it's not going to affect my decision either way. I'm looking at both schools and any other school that comes into the picture the same way, and I'm just looking forward to get going in the recruiting process. I know it's going to be brutal, but I'm going to hit the ground running and just go with it."


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