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Analysis: The rise and fall of Jake Heaps

Published: Monday, Dec. 5 2011 2:58 p.m. MST

PROVO — I found it somewhat obnoxious when I received the DVD back in 2005. A family friend of the Heaps family sent me footage of a then 12-year-old Heaps performing at the Barton Camp in Seattle.

I remember reluctantly watching the film, not so much because it interested me, but rather so I could tell the party I received it from that I watched it when asked.

What I saw when viewing the tape amazed me.

I don't consider myself an expert at evaluating quarterbacks, but it was very apparent when watching the young Heaps' footwork, release and arm-strength that he was going to be something special. I showed the footage to people whom I consider experts in evaluating QB talent and they readily concurred.

Heaps was very much a "can't-miss prospect," and I learned very early during the recruiting process that BYU was unlikely to miss out on his services. Yes, he was recruited by everyone and could have named his school, but BYU remained his favorite throughout the process.

Looking back at what I've come to know about Heaps and his family, it's nothing short of shocking to learn of his decision to transfer from BYU. The "can't miss" kid whom BYU could not miss out on is going elsewhere.

Yes, the signs were readily apparent since his starting spot was yanked from him in favor of Riley Nelson following the Utah State game. Despite the sure signs, while knowing quite a bit about his situation and his family's perspective, I found it a possibility that he'd stick it out.

Looking back, I should have known better.

Heaps signed on with BYU in 2010 as the most-highly-touted prospect to ever sign with the program — or at least since Ben Olson signed back in 2003.

The Skyline High quarterback was a consensus five-star prospect and ranked as not only the No. 1 QB prospect by some services, but as the No. 1 prospect at any position.

He went on to attract many top prospects to BYU's program after committing to the Cougars.

Players such as the four-star Ross Apo, the four-star Alani Fua and Zac Stout, among others, readily made mention that a big reason they came to BYU was to play with Heaps.

Many won't soon forget his commit announcement at Iggy's Sports Grill along with Apo and Stout. Many saw it as brash, self-indulgent and ridiculous. Heaps and his family maintain to this day that he did it to bring good press to BYU and to help attract more prime recruiting talent to the program.

The Iggy's press conference is just the sort of thing that Bronco Mendenhall hates. Throughout my years of covering recruiting, the BYU head coach has made no secret regarding his utter disdain for the recruiting process and the hype assigned to prospective players out of high school.

Mendenhall prefers players who completely buy into his program and aren't concerned with any ancillary aspects involved with recruiting — players who earn their spots. During every letter-of-intent day, he makes mention on how little he cares about stars assigned to his signees or what other schools recruited them.

Heaps was already part of BYU's program during LOI day, graduating early from high school so that he could participate in spring ball and get a jump-start in securing the starting quarterback nod as a true freshman.

Throughout the spring, he showed to be clearly the top option at the position, living up to his tremendous hype — at least initially.

Entering fall camp, however, Mendenhall and the coaching staff decided they didn't want to just hand the starting job to a true freshman. They changed the offense for Riley Nelson, and decided to employ both of them as rotating quarterbacks to start the season.

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