When Jake Heaps transferred to Kansas from BYU, he knew he'd have to sit out the required year and be relegated to the scout team, but with Spring Football beginning, the highly touted quarterback knows, it's finally his time to shine.
Often last year, Jayhawks head coach Charlie Weis ranted and raved about Heaps' efforts on the scout team, saying that he was by far and away one of the best players on the field, but most importantly, he told of a person who had become a leader on the team, furthering the anticipation of his work this year.
"Jake is ready to go, I think he's chomping at the bit," Weis said.
Often during the 2012 season, he would watch the Jayhawks play and take notes, while texting Weis his thoughts on what he was seeing. He was a true student of the game. In recruiting, he did all that he could to help convince recruits to join he and the others at Kansas, showing them that they could be part of something special.
Heaps made believers of his current teammates throughout the course of the 2012 season at practice and around the Anderson Football Complex. Now he faces the challenge of putting it all together starting with spring ball, a challenge that Heaps has longed for.
"From the moment, I stepped on campus, I wanted to work my tail off and have my teammates see me work my tail off and try and be a sponge and soak up everything I possibly can, whether it's the playbook, or the environment, the fanbase, the way Coach Weis works, the way Coach (Ron) Powlus coaches and even my teammates, the way they react in certain situation and the way they were on the field and off of it," Heaps said.
Heaps' year away from playing helped him analyze what he thought the team needed going forward and it's the basis for the blueprint which he looks forward to using going into the spring.
Aside from performance on the field, Heaps believes leadership is where it will all start.
"It's about being genuine, it's about this place and being genuine about the program and having love for the program and letting your teammates know that. It's about having expectations for yourself and this team," Heaps said.
The biggest obstacle going into 2013 will be finishing. Last season, Kansas was in many games and could have won several of them, but after coming up short, it's the goal of Heaps and this year's team to complete the task at hand and with that will come many more victories than the programs has achieved in several years.
"There's a different mentality or attitude that this team is taking on," Heaps said "It's one day at a time. The switch hasn't been flipped all the way yet. You have to keep chipping away at those things and I think we're doing a very good job at that."
If the wait did anything for Heaps, it gave him an appreciation for the game and the opportunity in front of him. It also has him hungry and ready to seize the moment, to be the guy who helped be a major part of a turnaround of a program that is ready for its fortunes to change, one day and one play at a time.
"Man, I've been so excited about this for a long time, now," Heaps said. "This is an opportunity to go out there and play the game that I loved around guys that I enjoy and get coached up and that's what I'm excited about, is to go out there and do everything that I can to be the best player that I can be and be the best quarterback for this team.".