LAWRENCE, Kan. — Former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist sat behind a table flanked by former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps and ex-Oklahoma wide receiver Justin McCay. Over to the side sat Charlie Weis, the smile on his face stretching nearly ear to ear.
All of them are getting a second chance at Kansas.
Weis introduced the three high-profile transfers on Monday, ushering in a new era of Jayhawk football with gusto. Crist and Heaps were both among the best QBs in the country coming out of high school, and McCay was one of the nation's most dynamic wide receivers.
"I don't think any of us expected to be sitting here today when we all committed to different places," Heaps said in a steady voice. "You don't go in expecting it's not going to work out, but at the end of the day, things happen for a reason."
Just about everything has been overhauled at Kansas since Weis took over as coach for the fired Turner Gill. Players will have their names on the backs of jerseys this fall, a new coaching staff is taking shape and already the roster has experienced significant changes.
Crist represented the first major coup for Weis, who recruited him to Notre Dame and had remained close to him even after the coach was fired following the 2009 season.
Crist had a season-ending knee injury his freshman year and another last year, after he completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,033 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven picks under Weis' replacement, Brian Kelly. He came back from the injury to regain the starting job this season, but was benched at halftime of the opener against South Florida. He played only a handful of snaps the rest of the way.
"I was recruited for what Coach Weis wanted to do and those things, but you have to adapt and overcome," Crist said. "I feel so much more comfortable doing the things Coach Weis wants me to do. That's why I committed to him the first time at Notre Dame."
Within hours of news that Crist had committed to Kansas, Heaps also made the decision.
comments on this story
He was the nation's top-ranked quarterback coming out of high school, and set several freshman records at BYU. But he struggled early this season and lost his starting job to Riley Nelson.
Heaps will have to sit out this season under NCAA transfer guidelines, though he'll be able to participate when spring practice starts March 27. He's expected to take over the starting job once Crist is done, giving Weis a pretty good idea who will be under center the next three years.
"I wanted to address quarterback, and how'd I do? That's not too bad," Weis said.