Tom Smart, Deseret News
Jake Heaps is getting a new start this week as his former teammates are adjusting to a new style of offense.
The former BYU quarterback, who transferred after the 2011 season, is listed as the starter on the Kansas depth chart released Monday.
The Jayhawks began spring drills on Tuesday.
"Can't wait to get out on the field with my boys today!! Surreal that spring ball is already here!" Heaps tweeted out Tuesday morning on his Twitter handle, @jtheaps9.
Heaps sat out last season, as per NCAA transfer rules, and watched as Dayne Crist started seven games for the Jayhawks. Crist, a transfer from Notre Dame, threw for 1,313 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions while competing 47.7 percent of his passes in an offense guided by Charlie Weis, the former Irish head coach and New England Patriots assistant.
"I think Jake is ready to go. I think he is chomping at the bit," Weis told reporters during a media session on Monday.
Heaps came to BYU as a high-profile five-star recruit, rated the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country by Scout.com. In his freshman season in 2010, Heaps showed flashes of his potential, throwing for 2,316 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He led the Cougars to wins in six of his 11 starts, including a victory in the New Mexico Bowl in which he tossed four touchdown passes.
But in his second year in Provo, Heaps struggled out of the gate in the 2011 season. He turned the ball over six times and threw just three touchdowns in the first five games, and was replaced by backup Riley Nelson against Utah State. After Nelson rallied the Cougars past the Aggies, Heaps lost his starting job and transferred at the end of the regular season, electing not to join the Cougars in their bowl game that year.
Listed at quarterback behind Heaps, who will be a junior, is sophomore Michael Cummings. Cummings started five games for Kansas in 2012, but struggled like Christ, completing 45.7 percent of his passes and throwing for 456 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Cummings, who played in eight games, averaged just 57 passing yards per game.
"I am obviously very high on Jake. Michael has progressed nicely, too," Weis told reporters. "Those two guys are going to get all of the reps in the spring time."
The Jayhawks return three of their top five pass catchers from last season, including halfback Tony Pierson, wide receiver Andrew Turzilli and tight end Jimmay Mundine.
"You will have to ask the players," Weis said when asked how Heaps has done in taking over a leadership role on the team. "Leadership is not something that is faked; either you are on or you are not. Sometimes it can be suppressed. In other words, you can have a young guy that has natural leadership about him, but does not say anything because he does not feel it is his time yet. I am not worried about that too much with Jake."
The announcement of Heaps being atop the Kansas depth chart caused Cougar fans to respond to the news via Twitter. Here's a look at some of the things that were tweeted:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @brandonljudd
- Former Cougar star Jackson Emery shares...
- Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much money...
- BYU basketball: Breaking down UMass, Cougars'...
- Cougars in the pros: Austin Collie re-signs...
- Breaking down UMass, BYU basketball's next...
- BYU football: Cougars have gotten solid...
- Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter...
- BYU's linebacker Kyle Van Noy engaged to Miss...
- Mike Sorensen: Despite disappointing... 192
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up... 102
- College football re-rankings: Where do... 60
- Unbeaten Utes hit the road for the... 58
- Sources: Former BYU quarterback Steve... 50
- Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much... 48
- BYU basketball: 3 players record... 47
- Dick Harmon: USC taps BYU experience... 44