Heaps Shines on the National Stage

Not much of anything has gone wrong for Jake Heaps during the recruiting process, on the actual field of play, or anywhere else. This continued into the Elite 11 Camp, where Heaps was named as camp MVP. Like with most things Heaps does, he went into the Elite 11 with a purpose and with the "big picture" well in mind. TBS caught up with Heaps to learn more about his experience at the Elite 11.

Accolades have been easy to come by for Jake Heaps for a while now. Twenty-six scholarship offers from the top programs around the country and being on top of a good share of top-recruit lists have headlined the accolades Heaps has received over the past year.

For Heaps, however, the Elite 11 camp stood on top of them all in regards to accolades.

"It's the best of the best," said Heaps about the Elite 11. "It was such an honor and a privilege to even be named as one of the participants. To be named the MVP of the camp was incredible."

For a while now Heaps has had the Elite 11 camp well in mind on his list of goals. The reason? Heaps simply aims to be the best.

"It's important for me to strive to be the best in whatever I do," explained Heaps. "It doesn't matter if it's in a game, at a combine or anywhere else. I need to be at my best and my goal is always to perform at my highest level no matter where I'm at."

Heaps did indeed perform amongst the best and rose above them all, garnering himself MVP honors. By doing so, Heaps held true to his conviction to always be at his best.

"It was a blast," said Heaps about the whole experience. "It was truly one of the best experiences I've had. I learned so much and it was such an honor to be named as MVP among so many great quarterback prospects. It went really well for me."

Getting There

Ever since Heaps first learned about the Elite 11 Camp, he's had the goal to get there.

"Seeing guys like Mark Sanchez, Matt Stafford, Jake Locker and others go there and seeing where they all are now made me want to follow where they've been," commented Heaps.

The process to get the Elite 11 is relatively simple. The evaluation process starts out during the beginning days of every new year and continues up until the Nike Camp and other Elite 11 Camp tryouts.

What it all boils down to is impressing Bob Johnson and his staff enough to gain an invite to the top quarterback combine in the country.

"Bob Johnson runs the whole thing, so you have to impress him to get in," explained Heaps.

Heaps locked up his spot after this evaluation process, which included impressive performances at the Nike combine at Stanford and other camps. One would readily assume Heaps was a shoe-in for the Elite 11 given his impressive offer list and other accolades, but Heaps wasn't sure.

"I always thought that I was a strong candidate, but you never know," related Heaps. "There are a lot of critics out there of me and you never know if they're working against you enough to not get an invite, so when I finally got the invite I was relieved and very excited and honored."

Being There

When Heaps arrived at the Elite 11 he was just getting done spending a week at his high school team's camp. During the team camp Heaps threw at least 200 times per day and was a bit concerned that it would affect his arm strength. At the same time, Heaps didn't want to put his arm on ice and perhaps hinder his high school team's preparation in order to save his arm for the Elite 11.

The quarterbacks were matched up with former great college quarterbacks who took the role of being tutors for each of the Elite 11 participants.

"I had Mark Sanchez, Colt McCoy and some others, and it was awesome," said Heaps. "Each of those guys are players I really look up to and would hope to match as far as how well they did in college."

Throughout the drills Heaps shined. His accomplishments and subsequent accolades heaped upon him during the combine have been well documented on this site and others. When it was all said and done, the only criticism thrown Heaps' way was a curious one.

"A lot of the write-ups made mention of my height and how that was a weakness," related Heaps. "Well, I'm as tall as Mark Sanchez, I'm as tall as Matthew Stafford, and height doesn't seem to be an issue with them, so I really don't get it. I remember walking into Steve Sarkisian's office on one of my visits to Washington and the first thing he said was how I was as tall as Mark Sanchez, so my height wasn't a concern to him anymore."

What it boiled down to in this reporter's eyes is that reporters simply had a hard time finding much fault with anything Heaps did at the camp and had to focus on something that is out of his control and all but irrelevant.

Regardless of his status as MVP of the Elite 11, Heaps did find fault in his overall game and will now work hard to improve on some key components.

"You're never there, you're never perfect, and becoming a great quarterback is realizing that there is always things you can work on," explained Heaps. "Probably the best thing I learned was to have more explosion in the pocket. I have good footwork, but it was explained to me how I could really help myself by having more explosion in my efforts to avoid rushes, so that's something I'm really going to work hard on during the coming weeks before the season starts."

BYU Blue

Another thing Heaps was intent on doing at the Elite 11 was being seen in BYU gear.

"You need to represent your school at all times," said Heaps.

And represent he did, as the quarterback with the BYU gear on rose above the rest in his overall performance.

Heaps realizes the importance of representing one's football program. Considering how national of a spectacle the Elite 11 combine is, representing BYU became even more important in his eyes.

"Lane Kiffin, the head coach at Tennessee, taught me that," explained Heaps. "When I was being recruited by Tennessee, Kiffin stressed how important it was for people to see your school. Tennessee has been struggling recently, but for Kiffin he encourages his players and recruits to show off their Tennessee gear no matter where they are and what they're doing. People see that and they note that. It helps you do your best in representing the school you're playing for or going to play for, and it helps others realize what school the kid [that is working hard to perform at his best is going to]. It's very important to me to wear the emblems of the school I represent at all times."

Heaps also made sure he talked to anyone and everyone about BYU and exactly why he chose to commit there.

"I remember talking to Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN and we talked about BYU for at least 10 minutes," related Heaps. "They got interested and commented how great BYU was doing and how they'd be interested to see how BYU did in the coming years. Those are national guys, so it's important for the program that they're on the national stage and people can see the progress BYU is making. Anything I can do to help with that is something I take pride in and am very active in pursuing."

At the end of it all Heaps performed about as well as he could have possibly hoped for. When his name was called as camp MVP, Heaps admittedly almost lost some composure.

"I was so excited [that] I wanted to stand up and yell, but I obviously couldn't, so I tried to act as calm as possible," Heaps said.

For Heaps, however, receiving the award wasn't just for him.

"It's for BYU and my future teammates," explained Heaps about whatever honors he's received, including the Elite 11 MVP. "It's important to me and I owe it to my future teammates to be the best I can be in whatever situation I'm in and in everything I'm doing. It's important to grow as much as possible and to perform as well as possible for BYU, not just for myself. Football is a team sport; you do everything for the school and your teammates. I feel that I did just that at the Elite 11 and I hope people can see that and understand it."

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