April 29, 2009

Heaps keeps Vols in the mix

There are needs at linebacker and at both offensive and defensive line, but no hole is bigger than quarterback for Tennessee in the 2010 recruiting class. Sammamish, Wash., quarterback Jake Heaps has long been thought to be the top target for Lane Kiffin and the Evergreen State native definitely has interest in the Vols.

"I'm really excited about Tennessee," Heaps said. "It's a great school with great coaches. The staff they put together is really good. I know they are going to get things turned around. They did a fantastic job in spring ball. Their facilities are unreal and their fan base is good. It's a neat deal. I know I'd get great coaching there. It's good."

Skyline High School has been a destination for college coaches from BYU, California, LSU, Tennessee and Washington who are out and about this spring for prospect evaluations. Tennessee quarterbacks coach David Reaves was in the great Northwest on Monday.

Heaps watched film with Reeves and other coaches when he was on different campuses earlier this spring. The chance to get evaluated isn't a blow to his confidence. He really enjoys constructive criticism and says that only makes him want to get better.

"Nobody is perfect," Heaps said. "Peyton Manning still works on his three-step drops and if he still works on it, then I need to do more because I'm not close to him. His work ethic is unreal and that's what I want to be like. I love to study film and work hard. I'm a sponge and everything I can do to improve is wanted. I love to hear that stuff because getting coached up by coaches like that is great and I greatly appreciate it."

The coaches that have evaluated Heaps have loved his drive and competitive nature. He wants to win at all costs and it's all about the team.

"A lot of things that the coaches love is that I'm a winner," Heaps said. "I'm 28-0 and led my team with leadership. They love my footwork and quick release. And my overall knowledge of the game. They tell me I'm doing a lot of great things and that they will teach me all the nuances of the game when I get there and they get me coached up."

Rumors have floated that Heaps was mad at Rivals.com over his initial ranking. He says that isn't the case and made it clear that he doesn't get caught up in all of the hoopla surrounding his recruitment.

"Regardless of rankings, people are going to think what they are going to think," Heaps said. "I'm not really concerned about that. I really appreciate all the accolades that people have given me, but I'm a team guy. I'm really focused on winning a third state championship. I just use it as fuel to get better. That's all you can do. People are going to have their own opinion and you just take it with a grain of salt. That rumor isn't true."

A devout Mormon, Heaps' faith is at the center of his life. With traditional Mormon school BYU in the mix, it's natural to wonder exactly how prominent a role his faith will play in which school he decides to attend.

"I'm real strong on my faith and I believe in God and my religion," Heaps said. "I take it seriously, but it's not going to play a serious factor in my decision. I want to find the best fit for me and wherever that's going to be will have some of that aspect with it."

The previous five schools mentioned are Heaps' top five. He doesn't have a leader and he says that all are even. They each offer great things but also have differences. There isn't one particular thing that Heaps is looking for. He wants his eventual choice to have several different things.

"I don't think there is one thing," Heaps said. "I think there is a lot of things that go into a decision like this. It's not just facilities or coaching. When it comes down to it, I want a great fan base, great tradition, a great coaching staff. Can I see myself living there four to five years? The depth charts and all that stuff go into making a decision."

Heaps wants to make a decision by June at the latest.

The state of Washington's motto is Al-Ki which means bye and bye or hope for the future. Tennessee fans hope Heaps says bye bye to his home state and becomes their hope for the future at quarterback.

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