October 13, 2008

Heaps Focused on Football Now, Recruitment Later

Skyline High School's Jake Heaps will have his pick of schools when it's all said and done. Well, actually, the 6-foot-2, 182-pound junior signal caller already has an offer sheet that stacks up with that of some of the elite 2009 prospects. Heaps, who's offer list now sits at 16 after recent offers from North Carolina, Tennessee, Nebraska and Duke, is also receiving heavy interest from Oklahoma.

"I've been talking to Oklahoma a lot lately, and they've had some high interest in me," said Heaps. "So we'll see how that one plays out. Oklahoma is pretty much the only school that I've talked to lately that hasn't offered me. At this point, my recruitment is at a standstill you could say."

Currently, Washington, North Carolina and BYU are showing Heaps the most attention.

"North Carolina has turned up the heat quite a bit lately. They send me faxes at school, handwritten letters - they send me everything they possibly can. They've shown how much they like me," said Heaps. "Them, BYU and U-Dub have been recruiting me really hard."

While he has remained humbled to find himself in the situation he's in, Heaps is currently focused on the Spartans' 2008 season, choosing to focus on his recruitment following his junior season.

"It's been fun to watch college football and see how it goes. I haven't really gotten too serious about the whole school thing yet. I want to focus on my season and focus on helping my team win another state title," explained Heaps. "As soon as my season is over, I'll really get into my recruitment and come out with a top 10 or top five probably around January. Right now though, I'm going with the flow, enjoying things and watching things closely. But I'm just thankful to have all 16 offers, I couldn't be more grateful."

The Spartans, the defending 3A state champions, are off to a great start and looking to win their second consecutive state championship, this time in the 4A classification, where Skyline was bumped up to following the 2007-08 school year.

"Our team is 6-0 right now. We just got a huge win, beating Eastlake 42-0. We've been doing very well this season, it's been fun. The first string guys - the most we've played is the end of the third quarter, and that only happened once. Everyone has been playing really well when we have a chance to show what we can, but we're not even playing the majority of the second quarter in most games."

With limited playing time, Heaps' numbers aren't nearly as gaudy as they could be. Thus far, Heaps has thrown for just under 1,000 yards with 14 touchdowns to only one interception. While those statistics are certainly good, Heaps is not satisfied.

"My completion percentage is around 65 percent. I've almost thrown for 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns, and I've also rushed for three touchdowns," said Heaps. "I threw an interception against Lake Washington - I got greedy. I knew it wasn't the right read, but we were already up a few touchdowns and I made a poor decision. I regret things like that because I know I'm better than that. It was a weird deal and it definitely should not have happened."

Heaps is quick to name no favorites, but it's long been speculated that the Huskies have been in good shape to gain his commitment. However, the situation on Montlake is not a good one. After an 0-5 start and a fourth straight losing season staring Washington straight in the face, Head Coach Tyrone Willingham looks to be gone barring a miracle. Does Washington's current situation affect the Huskies' chances of landing Heaps?

"Not a whole lot. Of course you'd love to see a team win, but I know they're going through growing pains right now. They're just so young, it's tough to demand so much from them. They're playing 12 freshmen right now, that's unbelievable," expressed Heaps. "You have to think about the following years. I think they'll take that experience and get better and better. They have a great core of guys right now. They may all be young, but they're very talented. I know all of those guys and I can promise you that they will be very good in the next couple of years, if not next year."

A possible replacement for Willingham is BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall, someone Heaps has built a good relationship with over the course of his recruitment. If Washington were to hire Mendenhall, would that put Washington in the lead?

"That's tough to say. I know he's got a great thing going on at BYU, so it would be kind of hard for me to see him giving up his job," said Heaps. "But if it happened, it would be very intriguing."

Another candidate to replace Willingham is Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, albeit the chances of luring away the Tigers' head man is not likely. However, the thought of learning from one of college football's best offensive minds excites Heaps.

"Look at what he's done, he's really developed Chase Daniel into a great player," exclaimed Heaps. "I know he's a great coach. It'll be interesting to assess the situation - we'll see how it plays out."

But no mistake that Heaps would love to play for Washington's current coaching staff, a staff that he has built a solid relationship with and one that continues to contact him daily.

"It's really unfortunate to see this happen to a good coaching staff and a great group of guys. If you talk to most recruits about Washington, they say how much they respect the coaching staff," expressed Heaps. "They send me probably about four handwritten letters almost every day. I've been keeping in touch with them a lot. They're a great group of guys and I love them to death. It's very saddening to see this happening to them. This whole situation has been messy, it's been tough."

However, Heaps knows that it's unlikely the same coaching staff will be coaching the Huskies next season, and discussed how the situation will have an effect on his recruitment.

"The big part for recruiting, is how soon would they be able to hire a new coach. I do want to be able to know my coaching staff," said Heaps. "I want to make my decision late spring or early summer at the latest, so that would definitely play into it. Ideally I would love to get my commitment out of the way in the spring, so I can get the distraction out of the way and get to work on my senior year."

Heaps understands the important of having a quarterback committed early in the recruitment process, and made it known that whatever school gains his commitment, will also instantly gain another recruiter.

"As soon as I make my commitment to a school, I'm going to be asking the coaching staff who, what, when and what's their number," explained Heaps. "The only way you become a great team, is to have great players around you. Recruiting players to come with you is a big, big thing."

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