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History shows quarterback Jake Heaps on verge of a monster year
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • How much has life changed for BYU quarterback Jake Heaps?

He's gone from answering questions about whether he's capable of being the starting quarterback at BYU to how long he plans to stay at the school before he bolts to the NFL. All in one year.

Oh, and he also got married.

Now a sophomore, Heaps not only has won the starting job over Riley Nelson, but he's also considered a team leader — at least on the offensive side of the ball. That was evident Saturday as the Cougars started preseason camp in preparation for the opener on Sept. 3 against Ole Miss.

"Jake is definitely the man this year," said receiver Ross Apo. "No doubt about it."

Heaps was sharp from the opening bell at camp, completing 8 of 9 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the 11-on-11 scrimmages, which BYU calls "team" sessions.

Regarding that NFL question, Heaps answered it at media day last month and again Saturday by saying professional football is the furthest thing from his mind right now.

"Honestly, it is way too early to be thinking about those kinds of things," he said. "If I was even blessed with that kind of opportunity, it would be an amazing thing. But right now I am focused on our team. I am focused on playing here at BYU, and being here all three years, and enjoying this ride as an independent football team, and being partnered with ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports. It doesn't get any better than that."

Heaps is one of 38 quarterbacks on the Davey O'Brien Watch List, and one of eight sophomores. But the only other sophomores on the list who played as much as freshmen as Heaps did are Tennessee's Tyler Bray and Central Florida's Jeff Godfrey.

With ESPN likely televising 10 or more BYU games this season, Heaps will be one of the most visible sophomore quarterbacks in the country.

"To be able to be seen on a national scale week in and week out, there's no team in the country that will have more exposure than us," he said.

The confident quarterback scoffs when it is suggested he could experience a sophomore slump, and Saturday's performance showed he hasn't been resting on last season's accolades.

Heaps broke almost every BYU freshman quarterbacking record last year, completing 57 percent of his passes for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns, with nine interceptions.

If past sophomore performances of BYU quarterbacks who played a lot as freshmen are any indication, Heaps could be in for a monster year. It is difficult to envision that Heaps could slide back, as Matt Berry did in 2003 after showing great promise as a freshman in 2002.

John Beck improved his passer efficiency rating almost 24 points in his sophomore year (2004) and his completion percentage was six points better. Ty Detmer improved his completion percentage by more than 10 points in 1989 after attempting just 153 passes in a limited role as a freshman.

But Berry's sophomore season was a disappointment, and he ended up giving way to Beck, then a freshman.

Heaps said he spent the offseason trying to get bigger and faster.

"I really wanted to put an emphasis on my physical attributes. I feel like I can get bigger and more explosive. I put on 15 pounds from the end of last season. I want to continue on that path, obviously the right way, with muscle and not fat. And so I am really excited about that opportunity," he said. "I have always been a technician freak, always working on my mechanics. I want to continue working in that area and keep myself tuned up. But the main points of emphasis have been the physical stuff."

New BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman said he can't think of anything other than an injury that could keep Heaps from having a sensational sophomore season.

"He's still as hungry as ever," Doman said. "He wants to be great."

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay —

Tracking Cougar quarterbacks

Stats of BYU quarterbacks who played as freshmen and sophomores:

John Beck, freshman (2003)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

8 104.88 145-73-5 50.3 864 5

John Beck, sophomore (2004)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

11 128.51 343-192-8 56.0 2,563 15

Matt Berry, freshman (2002)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

8 121.23 184-108-9 58.7 1,309 7

Matt Berry, sophomore (2003)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

8 112.12 235-147-14 62.6 1,445 7

Ty Detmer, freshman (1988)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

10 n/a 153-83-10 54.2 1,252 13

Ty Detmer, sophomore (1989)

GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TDs

12 n/a 412-265-15 64.3 4,560 32.

Bulked-up QB focuses on BYU career, sidesteps talk of a future in NFL or a potential sophomore slump.
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