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Dick Harmon: Could top QB be headed to the Cougars?

Published: Thursday, June 4 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Thursday could be a huge day for BYU football — if the stars align the way many experts believe they will.

Thursday Jake Heaps, rated by many to be the nation's top high school quarterback, will announce where he'll be playing college football.

This just happens to be one day before he'll be attending BYU's junior day on Friday where a bevy of prep talent from throughout the country will gather as Bronco Mendenhall and his staff host the players at their own expense.

It is expected Heaps will choose BYU.

Schools hold Junior Days specifically to invite targeted high school players who are entering their senior years. They have a padded and non-padded camp and get a close inspection of the talent without paying expenses for the athletes to come on campus.

Heaps sent out a press release Wednesday announcing Thursday is the day he'll make an official declaration.

Heaps just finished his junior year for Skyline High in the state of Washington, has 26 Division I scholarship offers. He is 28-0 as a starting QB. Just over a month ago, Heaps narrowed his college choices to five, including nearby Washington and new coach Steve Sarkisian, BYU, LSU, Tennessee and Cal.

The theory goes, if Heaps announces for BYU, it will create a stir at this camp and lead to other blue chip juniors to either tip their respective hands for the Cougars, or take Mendenhall's pitch more seriously than before.

If Heaps chooses another school, it would make for an interesting Friday on BYU's campus, a place he has frequented multiple times the past two years.

My sources believe Heaps is solidly in BYU's camp.

If the Cougars win the Heaps sweepstakes, it could have an immediate impact on the direction of the recruiting class of 2010. Ross Apo, an LDS blue chip receiver from Texas, committed to Texas but is close friends with Heaps.

The decision could influence Apo, whom Texas is boxing in with other receivers the Longhorns are recruiting. Apo is expected to attend BYU's junior day.

Apo, a 6-foot-4, 190, played at Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas and is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 56 receiver in the country.

The list goes on.

Led by Utah's top-rated recruit, Timpview High's Bronson Kaufusi, who has already pledged to sign with the Cougars, other junior day attendees include Timpanogos defensive end Joe Kruger, a Ute commit, who recently welcomed the entire defensive coaching staff at UCLA in his Orem home.

While recruiting of Heaps is extremely important for Sarkisian because he's next door, it may be more important to Mendenhall, whose narrow recruiting universe top-heavy with LDS prospects, makes signing Heaps a huge priority.

Last February, Mendenhall lost Manti Teo, the nation's top prep linebacker, a LDS athlete from Hawaii.

Sarkisian made Heaps a top priority since UW hired him from USC a few months ago. He's also got a bead on Jesse Scroggins of Lakewood, Calif., and Nick Montana (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), who is the son of Joe.

Tom Luginbill, the national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts, Inc., said BYU would be a better fit for Heaps than UW.

"I don't even think it's a question," Luginbill said, comparing Heaps' pocket presence to the likes of former Cougars Kevin Feterik and Sarkisian.

Guys he said were made to "sit back in the shotgun, utilize his quick release, dink and dunk and move the offense."

Luginbill said Heaps may not be the right fit for UW, an offense many expect under Sarkisian to utilize a lot of play-action passing and the deep ball.

Today isn't just a big day for the Cougars. It's potentially The Day for Mendenhall and his class of 2010.

We shall see.

E-MAIL: dharmon@desnews.com

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