It remains to be seen if BYU quarterback commit Jake Heaps out of Washington lives up to all the hype on the Division I level. Right now, he's loading up on national honors by the truckload.
Heaps has the resume, fresh off MVP honors at the Elite 11 camp in Southern California, a national honor. But it's his p.r. skills that are inarguably in orbit. As a wordsmith, he's fresh, smart and poised. He's as smooth as a Madison Avenue suit, one of the best quarterback quotes I've encountered since Steve Young.
He's had so many media interviews the past two years, the family asked a professional to help organize the load.
In the past two years, he's had no less than 500 media interviews. In the last seven weeks, he's given interviews to USA Today, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Associated Press and ESPNU.com, plus radio, print and TV outlets in Washington and Utah. Go back two months and they include even ESPN's Kirk Herbstreet and Chris Fowler.
Right after he did a USA Today interview on Sunday, Heaps took a few minutes via phone for the Deseret News. At the end of our conversation, I asked him how he thought BYU's other quarterbacks such as Riley Nelson, James Lark and Jason Munns reacted to all the attention he's receiving this summer.
His take: "All the guys are tremendous quarterbacks. BYU is a school that only produces great quarterbacks. It won't be easy for sure. I know Jason Munns because he is from Washington. At BYU Junior Day in June, I actually met Riley Nelson, a great guy.
"I know when I get there in January, I'll have my work cut out for me. Hey, I'm just a freshman coming in. I have a ton of respect for those guys; hopefully, they have the same for me. I'll have to earn it. But hopefully it will be good for all of us, certainly exciting. We'll see what happens."
See? In the past year, Heaps has become kind of Recruit Central. He got cell numbers of more than 50 college coaches, then he got the numbers of many top prep recruits. Then, he built a network, a clearing house. If a blue-chip guy inquired about BYU, he'd explain things.
"I wanted to get to know them and have them know me," he said.
No coach set it up or got him involved. He did it on his own.
The main communication was cell phone texting. Heaps estimates it's been in the thousands.
"More than my parents want to see on their phone bill," he laughed.
If a recruit wanted to know about Notre Dame, he'd give his take.
Tennessee? He'd tell them Lane Kiffin isn't what the media makes him out to be. Charlie Weis? His Tweeter is sweeter and he's funny. Steve Sarkisian at Washington? "Energetic, a fiery guy."
USC's Pete Carroll? "Very upfront, a straight shooter, doesn't mess around. He's very smooth with words. You have to watch yourself. He's quick and he'll catch you on some things. You have to be on your A-game when you talk to Carroll."
It goes on with Bob Stoops to Urban Meyer and Bronco Mendenhall.
"Many times we wouldn't even talk football, it was other things," he said. "When I got a chance to answer questions about BYU, I'd tell them exactly how it is."
Some of it worked. He's helped turned a bunch of BYU's 21 commitments for 2010 toward Provo. Coaches at big-time programs have called Heaps and asked what gives with some of the prospects on his network.
John Davis is the family friend set up to help with Heaps' interviews. He's handled media tours for CEOs and such sporting figures as Apolo Anton Ohno and Rosalynn Sumners. He even helped with "24" star Kiefer Southerland in a local charity event.
"Jake has been as professional and as well spoken as any I have been involved with and in most cases more," said Davis.
After a Heaps interview, Davis said it's not an uncommon reaction to hear: "Is he really a 17-year-old who has yet to even start his senior year in high school?"
The most consistent feedback he gets is that Heaps is well beyond his years in perspective and maturity.
"He is completely confident in his abilities, but is in no way arrogant," commented Davis.
While local high schools and colleges kick off practices this week, Heaps won't start practicing until Aug. 19. He plans to visit Provo to view BYU practices Aug. 12-15.
July and August are a time for talk. You can categorize this in the talk folder.
In September, boots hit the turf and game's on.
It will be interesting to see if the Washington prep star continues to stack up honors on the field after leading Skyline (Issaquah, Wash.) to a 14-0 mark and a 3-A state title last season.
In two years, Heaps is building on a stat line that reads: 405 completions in 648 attempts (.648) for 6,104 yards, 69 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 21 rushing TDs.
Looks like he walks the talk just fine.