It's been a long off-season for the Jayhawks after finishing 1-11, but there's arguably nobody more excited to take the field on Saturday than Jake Heaps and Justin McCay.
Ineligible to play last season after transfers, the Jayhawks' dynamic duo was restricted to the scout team and largely kept from the public eye.
"I'm extremely excited. This is a long time coming," Heaps said. "It got to the point where it felt like it would never get here and now it's finally here. It's an opportunity to show all the work I've put in and all the progress I've made."
Heaps, a former 5-star recruit and BYU transfer, said his time on the scout team was brutal. Between long workouts with strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple meant to imitate game day fatigue and then the more trying effects of having to watch the team struggle from the sidelines, he and McCay stuck together.
"When we both knew that we weren't going to play, we definitely bonded through that," Heaps said. "We had to be next to each other every single day in scout team, game day lifts, we went through them together. It definitely helped our chemistry and we both can't wait to get out there."
For a team that failed to score a single touchdown last season through the wide receivers, the year on the scout team could be a big factor in strengthening the passing game.
"He trusts me 100," McCay said. "When he throws me the ball I'm like, 'he threw that one, I don't think I was completely open,' but he puts it in the spot it needs to be. I trust in him without a doubt."
Now, it's finally game week and McCay couldn't hide his excitement.
"Since about Saturday night of last week I've been thinking about the game," McCay said. "I don't think you can ever be fully in the game when you're not in the game, but I'm just envisioning it the best I can, dreaming for the best outcome for the team."
He didn't seem too concerned about the time away from Division I football, but said there's one big thing he's not looking forward to.
"Getting hit," McCay said. "I try not to get hit, but I'm big, it's bound to happen. It's part of the game. My adrenaline level will be so high I probably won't feel it. I'm excited right now, but on Saturday, the roof will be off."
He comes from a large family, eight brothers and sisters to be exact, so that kept him tough growing up.
"If you knew my dad, he was like, 'there's no punks in this house,'" McCay said. "I'm the middle of all my brothers and sisters, but I'm the youngest boy so I got the worst of everything."
McCay, a Kansas City, Mo. native and Bishop Miege graduate, was a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com coming out of high school and was named to the 2009 Kansas Football Coaches Association All-State team. He redshirted his freshman season at Oklahoma and played just three games the next season before sitting out last year following the transfer.
"It's been a long ride for me, it's been a long journey and it's not even over, but it's hard to describe how I feel, I just don't want to let anybody down," McCay said. "If we come out with the win, that's all I care about. I can deal with my family talking trash, I can deal with everybody else, but if we get the W in the win column I'll be happy."
Head coach Charlie Weis said if things work out the way they should between Heaps and McCay, fans will see a pretty special player.
"I think when it is all said and done you will be happy with what you see," Weis said. "It is going to be a group effort. Will the quarterback put the ball on the money? Will the offensive line block long enough? Will he get some separation? There are going to be a lot of things that come into play but I am expecting big things from Justin."