June 5, 2009. Does anyone remember the excitement and happy talk when high school phenomenon Jake Heaps made it official to sign with Brigham Young? I remember boasting for hours on end to University of Utah fans about how we had gotten Sports Illustrated's number one overall high school recruit, and that they would have to deal with BYU having the best Quarterback in the state for years and years to come. Well, lets fast forward now to where we sit today. BYU is now 2-5, and statistically the Cougars have worst offense they have had in more than 50 years. After watching BYU be upended buy conference rival TCU, many begin to doubt the young quarterback in Jake Heaps. In the first half BYU gained a whopping total of 13 yards. (that includes only one first down) Jake Heaps finished the game with 91 passing yards, 2 interceptions, and no touchdowns. For a BYU team who has averaged more than 300 passing yards a game for the past 4 years; this is just miserable, heartbreaking, and terrible.
Slightly off topic, we now move to the pro's; 2007, NFL draft. The Oakland Raiders selected LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell with the number one overall selection. I also being a raider fan, believed Jamarcus to be one of the greatest quarterbacks that would ever live. How could he not be? He was big, somewhat mobile, had a rocket arm, and had all the attributes necessary for being great. For the past two years I have sat and watched this college football phenomenon develop into a total bust. His last season in Oakland he threw three touchdowns, and eleven interceptions. Some have even gone as far as labeling him the title of "biggest bust of all time".
Are you now seeing what I am getting at?
The comparison between these two athletes is very similar: Both candidates were highly sought after coming out of their leagues. Both quarterbacks have tremendous arm strength. Both quarterbacks had very high expectations, and both quarterbacks have struggled.
The stats above are from Russell's 2009 campaign (top) in comparison to Jake Heaps (bond) right now. The first thing we need to note is that the rating differs between the NFL and NCAA.The number that really stood out to me is the sacks, Russell's numbers come from throughout the entire season, where as Jake Heaps are just at the half way point.
Another player that Jake Heaps has reminded me of is Matt Berry. Berry was a high school prospect that USC, Notre Dame, and Washington had all made offers for. However, Berry chose BYU, and came to Provo following a two year mission. Berry, like Heaps, was strong armed, but strictly restricted to pocket passing. After giving Matt Berry plenty of fair chances, BYU took a chance and handed the reigns to John Beck. Although Beck struggled his first few games, he showed lots of promise, and made some spectacular plays early on in his career. He then developed into one of BYU's greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Many have said that we need to stick with Heaps because he is young and talented. However, Heaps has shown cougar fans no promise. He has not shown any spark of genius, brilliance, and most importantly leadership. Unlike most quarterbacks, Heaps isn't a vocal leader out on the football field. I know its really hard to ask that of true freshmen, but its a necessity for greatness. Cougar fans, we need to face it. Jake Heaps has become college footballs Jamarcus Russell. Yes, he is young, but he has not shown us any a legitimate promise. one touchdown, and six interceptions is NOT promising. I think it's time that the cougars give James Lark a shot. They should just experiment with him, and give him more reps with the starting offense. You never know, he could develop into the next John Beck.