PROVO — As if the announcement that the top-rated high school quarterback in the nation is headed to BYU wasn't enough, Jake Heaps also showed he possesses a good sense of drama, a knack for building team unity, and a penchant for firing up a crowd.
Two other highly touted prep players — Texas wide receiver Ross Apo and California linebacker Zac Stout — joined Heaps in verbally committing to the Cougars on Thursday afternoon in a news conference that transformed into a spontaneous pep rally.
The event tripled the pleasure of the dozens of Cougar fans who filed into Iggy's Sports Grill in Salt Lake City and cheered while witnessing what could go down as the biggest recruiting day in the school's football history.
After donning a BYU cap to proclaim his college choice, to a roar of approval from fans, Heaps said, "I know that I'm only one player and there is a whole team of us. BYU is a tremendous program and I need more than just me. There's 22 players out there on offense and defense, and it takes more to win a national championship and to win a conference championship."
Heaps, a prep standout from Skyline High in Washington, then introduced Apo, who emerged from the crowd to more cheers. Apo subsequently introduced Stout, who took his place in front of a bank of microphones at a table with Heaps and Apo.
"I had a whole speech written out that I didn't get through because it was so overwhelming," Heaps said afterward about the turnout. "I'm so excited right now and it shows how great a fan base BYU has."
Heaps explained that the motivation behind the production was to boost BYU's program.
"This whole press conference wasn't about me. It was about these guys," Heaps said. "It was about BYU as a collective group, getting these guys in the spotlight and BYU in the spotlight. If I have to take the heat for that a little bit, I'm definitely going to do that. I don't need the press conference and all that stuff. I'm not a Hollywood-type kid. But to get national media attention to BYU, I'll do that, definitely."
All three players are members of the LDS Church. Heaps and Apo plan to enroll early at BYU, next January, after the conclusion of their senior seasons. Stout said he plans to attend BYU for one year before serving a mission.
This fall, Heaps and Stout will go head-to-head as their schools, Skyline High and Oaks Christian High, meet on Sept. 18 in a showdown that will be televised by ESPN. Stout said as a group, the three were looking for a school with an environment that embraces education, faith, family and football. "We all agree that the combination of these things, with the emphasis on football, that BYU is right for us," he said.
The trio also emphasized that they want to win a national title during their careers in Provo.
"This is the place that we felt we have the best opportunity to win a national championship," Heaps said. "In no way, shape or form am I guaranteeing a national championship. But we're going to work like crazy to come out here and work hard for a national championship. It's not a dream, it's a reality. With a lot of hard work and dedication, it's a goal we can achieve."
While Heaps received 26 scholarship offers from around the country, his final decision came down to BYU and his hometown school, Washington, whose coach is former Cougar quarterback Steve Sarkisian. Heaps informed Sarkisian about his decision Wednesday.
"It was tough," Heaps said. "Coach Sarkisian made the same decision I did (as a player). He understands more than anybody why I chose (BYU). It was tough to say no, but at the same time, I was just really happy that I'm coming to a school that's right for me."
Now Heaps will have to deal with the reaction of Washington fans as he finishes up his senior year.
- BYU basketball: Cougars outlast San Francisco...
- San Francisco coach apologizes for postgame...
- WCC Championship game tale of the tape, BYU...
- Ranking the best NBA players to ever come out...
- BYU basketball: Gonzaga builds early lead,...
- BYU football: Bronson Kaufusi excited about...
- BYU basketball: Tyler Haws passes Russell...
- BYU report card vs. San Francisco: Cougars...
- BYU basketball: Cougars outlast San... 85
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up... 74
- High school boys basketball: 5A/4A/1A... 57
- San Francisco coach apologizes for... 46
- BYU basketball: Despite dearth of... 34
- BYU basketball: Gonzaga builds early... 33
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes eager to... 32
- Krystkowiak asks Runnin' Utes to stay... 24