Heaps’ Transfer Might Lead to Leach
By Paul Myerberg // Dec 7, 2011
On paper, Washington State should be Jake Heaps’ preferred landing spot. The former starter at B.Y.U., Heaps declared his intention to transfer earlier this week, making official what most believed would come to pass over most of the second half of the regular season. Heaps, who started most of his true freshman season and the first five games of 2011, lost control of his starting job in the second half against Utah State, a game the Cougars would come back and win late under Riley Nelson. Even after playing reasonably well in Nelson’s stead as an injury replacement in November, the writing was on the wall: Heaps, if he wants to start, needed to play elsewhere.
The Washington product will probably stay close to home. Geographic proximity is one of Washington State’s many draws, though geography takes a back seat to appeal of the new pass-happy offense due to be installed by Mike Leach during spring drills.
Washington State may appeal to Heaps for another reason, and this theory is frustrating to those who believed him to be the future of the B.Y.U. offense: Heaps may not be the sort of all-conference quarterback he seemed destined to become after a strong true freshman season.
In short, Heaps may top out at average, not excellent. If he wants to play in the Pac-12, perhaps Washington State’s lack of talent — when compared to the rest of the conference — gives him the best chance at playing time.
I don’t buy that. I still think Heaps can be a top-level college quarterback, and I certainly don’t think he left Provo because of he saw his career dwindling away: Heaps could have taken a redshirt in 2012, had he chose, then returned as a redshirt sophomore in 2013 and reclaimed the starting job. Heaps’ rationale for leaving B.Y.U. has more to do with a unsalvageable relationship with the team’s offensive coaching staff.
Heaps will land on his feet; there are dozens of programs who would offer him a seat at the table, and yes, that includes a solid portion of the Pac-12. Washington State is one of those schools. Despite having what seems to be a fairly strong stable of quarterbacks — Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday — Leach will want to add more and more to his collection, and would be foolish not to accept Heaps as a transfer.
Lane Kiffin would be interested: Tennessee was one of Heaps’ five finalists in 2009, when Kiffin was in Knoxville. With Matt Barkley gone after the 2012 season, if not sooner, and several untested options fighting to become his successor, Heaps would add depth and experience to a position sorely lacking in proven commodities.
What about Washington? Heaps might consider it, but the starting job would only be available in 2013 should Keith Price continue his progression and depart for the next level a season ahead of schedule. Oregon State seems set at quarterback with true freshman Sean Mannion, though the Beavers could use more depth — most of the Pac-12 could use some depth, actually.
There’s a chance that Heaps could look outside the Pacific Northwest and the Pac-12, which would open him up to most of the pro-style or pass-heavy spread teams in the Big Ten and Big 12. Heaps could have picked his school as a high school senior; even if a bit of the bloom is off the rose, those coaches who gaped in amazement at his high school tape will remember what made him a can’t-miss prospect in the first place.
But I keep coming back to Washington State, a program that seems to fill most of Heaps’ hypothetical wish list. If familial concerns are what prompted his transfer out of B.Y.U., it stands to reason that he’d want to remain close to home. If Heaps want to play in a pass-first system, serving under Mike Leach for the next three years would fit the bill.
And if he wants to play, Washington State will provide ample opportunities to take the starting job in 2013. Tuel, a rising senior, will have exhausted his eligibility. Halliday had a marvelous performance against Arizona State in November, but to anoint him the future starter is premature. Playing in Pullman seems to provide Heaps all that he needs to reclaim some of his lost luster.
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Tags: B.Y.U., Connor Halliday, Jake Heaps, Jeff Tuel, Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach, Pac-12, U.S.C., Washington, Washington State
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