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November 8, 2012Okay, help me out. The team's 1-8. The quarterback play this year has been inconsistent at best. How do you write about Jake Heaps without overinflating expectations? Let's ask wide receiver Justin McCay how he would craft a promo to give KU fans a preview of what Heaps will do.
"The headline would be, 'Mormon Cannon,'" McCay said.
That doesn't help. Really though, McCay would know as much as anyone. The two have been working closely this year on the scout team - or the "goon team" as the players call it. Heaps isn't afraid to get on McCay if he runs the wrong route or their timing is wrong.
Early on, Weis said he was concerned about McCay getting lost in the pack during spring practice. Part of the reason he has improved in practice is because of the chemistry he and Heaps have developed.
"He has pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go," McCay said.
Next year it's the spotlight, this year it's the scout team. Heaps won the scout team player of the week award the first week, and then Weis told him he wasn't going to give the award to him anymore. Noting that Heaps should expect to be the best player every week.
Still, Heaps and McCay have given the first team defense some serious challenges in practice this year. Heaps also doesn't mind that most of the opposing offenses he is running involves a lot of passing.
"For me it's great because I don't have too many times where I am handing the ball off," Heaps said. "I am getting valuable reps and it is up to me to take advantage of those reps and learn from them and make the best of it."
Although the few times when Kansas was preparing for an offense like Kansas State's where the quarterback ran the ball and took a lot of hits, Heaps wanted in on the action. Good luck getting the coaches to agree to that. His enthusiasm has gotten the attention of the defensive assistant coaches who see him everyday in practice.
"Jake has a good arm and has all the technical stuff that I don't have any idea about but what impresses me is how he gets the other guys around him to play," defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt said. "They like playing with him. He's a good leader."
Heaps has also spent his time on Facebook chatting with recruits about the new direction of the program.
"As a player I can give them my perspective and I have been in their shoes so I am not going to lie to them or say anything that they can't trust," Heaps said. "I want them to look at me as a friend and ask me about whatever that they couldn't ask a coach."
Of course, KU fans will have to see it before they believe the hype. Heaps said this year has been productive because he has gotten to learn more in depth about Weis' offense. Also since he is not seeing action in the games, he has been able to train harder in the strength and conditioning program during the season to beef up his body.
"For me it's tough because you want to be out there with your team and experience that and go battle with them," Heaps said. "At the same time it is fun to root them on. You have to see them Saturday at home games and you see me cheer them on. It gives me a a good perspective."