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Dick Harmon: Remembering actual Jake Heaps highlights isn't tough at all

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 2:42 p.m. MDT

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps passes to a receiver during the second half of an NCAA college football spring game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (Orlin Wagner, AP) Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps passes to a receiver during the second half of an NCAA college football spring game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (Orlin Wagner, AP)

Jake Heaps is making another stop.

I wish him the best and hope this third time is the charm.

Nearly two months ago, Heaps decided to leave Kansas following his junior year. After looking hard at several opportunities as a one-year senior, he chose the University of Miami. He couldn’t say anything about it until he officially had his graduation papers in order, or he’d have to stay at Kansas.

This is not how Heaps drew it up when he was a highly sought-after five-star recruit from Washington. Heaps picked BYU early, primarily because he liked then-quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman and is a member of the LDS faith.

At BYU, he had his ups and downs, but it ultimately didn’t work out after he found himself playing behind an older, more mature Riley Nelson. Kansas, he thought, was the answer.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) warms up before Brigham Young University plays New Mexico State University in football Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Provo, Utah.  
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) warms up before Brigham Young University plays New Mexico State University in football Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Provo, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

It turns out it was not. Jumping to Kansas was like going overboard into the Big 12 abyss.

Folks can debate and argue the Jake Heaps saga in Provo and Kansas all they want, and they probably will as long as fans jockey. My purpose isn’t to rehash old ground.

I’d rather look at some of the good moments I took from Heaps. Three of his games stand out in my mind.

But before that, I have to hand it to Heaps. He’s left two college programs so far, yet he’s never been one to whine, complain, do the backbite routine, cry to the media, or give any public disparaging remarks about his teammates or coaches.

That takes a gentleman. That takes class. That also takes some humility and self-discipline.

In the span of years since I first met and talked to Heaps, he’s been faced with tremendous challenges. His parents separated while at BYU and then divorced. His marriage to Brooke Heaps separated him from many of his best friends who were single. He’s had plenty of emotional roller coasters at a very young age and did his best.

The first memory was how much punishment Heaps took in that game at Florida State in 2010. He drew rave reviews from Doman and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall for standing in the pocket and taking hit after hit from a punishing Seminole defensive front, which literally pinned their collective ears back and sprinted into the Cougar backfield on every play.

The second is that 2010 loss to Utah in Rice-Eccles Stadium when he had an up-and-down game, but in the closing minutes, helped drive BYU’s offense down the field for what may have been the winning touchdown. As it turned out, offensive coordinator Robert Anae decided to run the clock and set up for a reasonable and makeable field goal that the Utes blocked on a perfect defensive play to preserve a 17-16 Utah victory. Heaps played well enough to help win that game.

The third was the very next game against UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. Heaps set school freshman passing records in BYU’s explosive 52-24 win that day. Named MVP for his efforts, he completed 25 of 34 passes for 264 yards and four touchdown passes. He broke Ty Detmer’s freshman record for most touchdown passes in a game and the BYU bowl mark for best pass completion percentage (.735).

Heaps was always a gentleman. He spent countless hours signing autographs for kids and other fans. He was always respective of the media and gave reporters plenty of time to get what they needed for features, advances, columns or game stories.

There have been worse QBs to cover after a football game in Provo.

I wish Heaps great success at Miami. He is capable of great things in his senior year.

Sometimes great things do come to those who endure.

Let 2014 be the year for Jake Heaps.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company