Dick Harmon: Jake Heaps, Cougars couldn't make it work
A graduate of Skyline High in Issaquah, Wash., Heaps started 16 games and played in 22 overall during his freshman and sophomore seasons at BYU the past two seasons. Heaps set BYU freshman passing records for yards, touchdowns and wins while starting the final 10 games as a true freshman in 2010. The highlight of his season came in the 2010 New Mexico Bowl, where he passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns to earn offensive MVP honors in a 52-24 victory over UTEP.
One big part of Heaps' decision is BYU's change in philosophy since he was recruited. Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman likes a mobile quarterback as shown by the energy brought by Nelson.
BYU's future offenses will feature mobility at that position with Stanford transfer Tysom Hill expected to enroll in early 2012. Hill has been timed in 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, faster than either Doman or Nelson showed in college. Former Alta High QB Ammon Olsen, the 5A player of the year, will also join the program and is a passer/runner.
Doman and Mendenhall both like the added dimension of a dual threat at QB and what it forces defenses to do.
Both Doman and Mendenhall, according to informed sources, knew of Heaps' impending departure a long time ago and have been nothing but supportive in quotes given to the media, speaking of NFL potential and his high skill level.
Conversely, the Heaps camp wants to deal with the separation in a similar manner. Public statements about the BYU experience will be positive, that a change in direction was required to reach potential.
Barton posted the following on his website, a conversation with Heaps: "I want to thank everyone for the support they've given me. This has been an incredibly hard time for my wife and me, and she's been an absolute rock.
"I thought choosing a program when I was being recruited out of high school was hard, but it pales in comparison to making this decision. I have made many friends here, and not just on the football team. People that will be friends of mine for the rest of my life. I really respect and like Coach Mendenhall, he's a great man. I've learned a lot about football from Coach Doman.
"I have no idea where I'm going to end up and I have not talked to anyone."
Heaps said he is looking forward to doing research.
Why now, before the bowl game?
"Out of respect for the coaches and players, it wouldn't have been fair to them if I was going through meetings, practices and recruiting weekends knowing the whole time I wanted to and was going to transfer. I also can't do something half-hearted. If I'm somewhere, I want to be fully committed to it."
What do I think?
I think Heaps sitting out next year at BYU or another school is a push and, if he'd stayed, Doman's offense could have been tweaked to fit his talent. Going to a new place, with an established culture and pecking order and recruits onboard in the program, will present a huge challenge to a newcomer, as he found at BYU. It will start all over again and I think his camp has underestimated it.
With that said, it has been tough on Heaps. BYU's older, mature culture kind of chewed him up the past two years and it started with week No. 1. I saw the same thing happen to John Beck, and he'd already been on a mission; he struggled with the older, established players who wanted someone else — Matt Berry.
The BYU quarterback gig is a tough one.
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