BYU football: Could Jake Heaps reach Jimmer status?

By Mike Whitelock

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Jan. 30 2011 6:02 p.m. MST

With everyone from ESPN to Good Things Utah talking about Jimmer Fredette, he is creating quite the buzz. Heck even my mom's been talking about him. He's also been covered by USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Wall Street Journal, just to name a few.

All the success going on with Fredette and the BYU basketball team it raises a question.

Could this same scenario happen in a few years from now with Jake Heaps and BYU football?

I think so and I'll explain why. For starters Heaps has already started with more hype. He was considered the number one rated QB coming out of high school and he even hired a publicist and held his own press conference to announce he was signing with BYU. The guy understands the power of the media. When you hear him speak he sounds mature beyond his years and comes off as a likable, humble guy.

Another key is the television deal BYU just signed with ESPN. The Cougars are going to be in big games in the national spotlight. In 2011 BYU will play in several big games against Texas, Mississippi, Utah, Central Florida, Oregon St. and possibly TCU at Cowboy Stadium. In 2012 they'll play Oregon St., Utah, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Boise St.. Many, or all, of these games should be televised on the ESPN family of networks.

Fredette has had success with limited exposure with the current MWC television deal. With BYU's new deal Heaps and the Cougars' will be on a main stage against many great programs.

In his first year heaps showed great potential early as the Cougars struggled but in the second half of the season Heaps really began to shine. He lead the Cougars' to win five out of their last six games. The lone loss came at Utah. Heaps showed great maturity and poise in his first ever rivalry game on the road. He drove the Cougars' into position to kick a game winning field goal, but it was blocked.

Heaps finished the year strong leading the Cougars' to a 52-24 bowl win over UTEP. He looked impressive throwing four touchdown passes with 264 yards of passing. You could really see the potential of Heaps and the young Cougar team. After the win Heaps said "I'm just really proud of our team. In all facets of the game, we have improved. It's so rewarding, looking back on this game and the way our season has gone. It has just been a very special season."

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall also added "He has a very bright future and he continues to learn to lead our team," Mendenhall said. "He continues to learn what it means to be the quarterback at BYU and now he knows what it feels like to win a bowl game. That's something a lot of first-year quarterbacks don't have the opportunity to do."

For all of the great things that are happening right now with Fredette and the BYU basketball program, I believe all of the pieces are in place for Heaps and the BYU football program to follow suit.

Mike Whitelock is an author and sports writer.

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