Former Jayhawks QB Jake Heaps excited about opportunity with Hurricanes
At 23 years old, Jake Heaps is married. He has 33 collegiate games with two programs to his name.
So why has he spent the past month living in the University of Miami’s dorms after transferring?
When redshirt senior Ryan Williams tore his ACL in the spring, it left the Hurricanes with no experience at the quarterback position. Not the ideal situation for a team hoping to capture the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Enter Heaps, once the nation’s top pro-style quarterback recruit in need of a final opportunity.
"I didn’t come here to be the backup," Heaps said via teleconference on Monday morning. "I came here to play, but you have to come here and earn that. No one’s going to give that to you and that’s what I knew coming into the situation and that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want anyone to hand me a job. I wanted to earn it. That’s the only true way you’re going to earn your teammates’ respect.
"I’m very excited about this opportunity. This is my last year, so I’m giving it everything I have in this thing. It’s extremely important for me to perform well, do well and not only win the job but for my goals and aspirations down the line as well."
In his first year at BYU, he passed for 2,316 yards, a freshman record 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Heaps was showing the promise that garnered accolades by Rivals.com in 2010.
But over his next two seasons between the Cougars and Kansas, he threw for 2,866 yards, 17 touchdowns and 18 interceptions over 20 games, losing his starting job with a 3-9 Jayhawks team in 2013.
When Williams’ injury took place, so did a chance with the Hurricanes. The true pro-style offense at Miami fits Heaps’ bill. It also has talented personnel in junior running back Duke Johnson and sophomore wideout Stacy Coley.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder said he can "manage the situation, manage the game," distributing the ball to Miami’s various weapons. Still, Heaps also acknowledges the things that made him struggle in his previous two stops are elements of his game he has been working on.
"Making sure when the pressure’s coming on making sure I’m making the right decisions," Heaps said. "My mobility — all those kinds of things — I’m not a runner but I’m confident in my abilities being mobile, moving around in the pocket and opening myself up for throws.
"Not gonna be the guy who’s going to scramble for my life but make sudden movements in the pocket. I’ve been working very hard to be efficient at that, but when having to do so be accurate with those throws when you’re making flat throws."
Since arriving on campus in late June, Heaps has put at the top of his list getting to know his teammates and showing them the hard work he puts in. He calls it the "only way they’re going to step onboard."
That goes for his competition at the quarterback position. While the quartet of Heaps, redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen as well as true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier are fighting for the same job, Heaps said everyone still helps each other out.
As the elder statesman of the group, Heaps wanted to let his teammates know he also cares about them away from the football field. It’s easier to go through a season together when everyone enjoys the company.
"There’s a lot of lessons I’ve learned from those experiences," Heaps said of his three seasons between BYU and Kansas. "There’s opportunity to sit there and say, ‘Oh man,’ hang your head about those situations that they didn’t work out. They didn’t work out for various reasons, but at the end of the day I’m here at the University of Miami. Had an opportunity to play here and to compete for a starting quarterback job, and that’s an exciting opportunity for me.
"I know I have the ability to perform to a level that this team needs and very excited to be in this situation. For me it’s going out there — good or bad — playing every down like it’s your last one and enjoying it because it’s a great game and opportunities are ones that you’re not going to forget. At the end of the day our goal is to win an ACC championship, and those are exciting opportunities. For me, it’s coming in and enjoying every single moment, not worrying about the outside what anybody’s saying and just go in and play and have fun and take care of your business and everything will work out."