The quarterback depth chart for the New York Jets consists of three well-known names, starting quarterback Geno Smith, back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick and newly drafted rookie Bryce Petty. However, there is a fourth arm in camp that seems to be overlooked and forgotten. His name is Jake Heaps, his mission? Making the final 53-man roster for the Jets.
In many ways, Heaps college career and early professional career is similar to Matt Simms, who moved on to Buffalo during the off-season. Heaps faces a similar up-hill battle that Simms faced when making the final roster each season.
Both Heaps and Simms were high school stand outs, Simms was a state sectional champion quarterback at Don Bosco Prep in North Jersey. Heaps, as a three-year starter at Skyline high school in Sammamish, WA posted 9,196 passing yards for 114 touchdowns versus 18 interceptions. Heaps had a 40-2 high school record and won three state section titles.
Despite the tremendous success in high school, Heaps bounced around between three different colleges and eventually went undrafted. After a successful rookie-camp try out, he latched on with the Jets since they saw his potential.
Heaps started out at BYU, transferred to Kansas and then wound up playing in three games at the University of Miami. The one place that helped out Heaps the most with his transition from college to pro was playing under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis while attending Kentucky.
Weis, a former offensive coordinator for the Jets, has his own offensive scheme he teaches his players that mirrors the offense Chan Gailey coaches. Heaps mentioned he enjoyed some of the stories about the Jets and knowledge of the NFL that Weis had passed on to him before leaving Kentucky.
It’s all or nothing for Heaps as the roster spot is his to take but also his to lose. Heaps said he’s prepared for the NFL and making the final roster despite his rocky college career. Is he ready for the NFL?
As a number 2 quarterback, definitely not but as a number 3 or 4 quarterback, most likely so. As far as the Jets are concerned, he has a shot to stick around as a member of the practice squad at the very least.Sep 27, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps (16) warms up before a game against the Duke Blue Devils at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The one thing I love about Heaps is his passion and determination. He acknowledges he’s currently behind Smith, Fitzpatrick and Petty on the depth chart but that’s not stopping him from potentially taking one of their spots on the team. He works hard and gives everything he has every single day which is something the whole team should be doing.
Right now, the best thing for Heaps besides making the roster is standing on the sidelines, holding the clipboard and taking notes. Heaps needs to absorb as much information about the game as he possibly can before taking the next leap to moving up on the depth chart.
Give him four or five seasons and he could be battling it out for starter. Not to get ahead of myself but anything is possible in the NFL. No one back in the day expected undrafted free agent quarterback Kurt Warner would go from nothing to Super Bowl Champion. Point is, the sky is the limit and right now, Heaps is taking advantage of every opportunity that’s put in front of him.
Besides practice, it all comes down to his performance during pre-season games. A successful performance will ensure him a spot on the team, a poor performance will put his spot in jeopardy. Despite his long-term goals, bouncing around teams shouldn’t be that difficult for Heaps who played for three different colleges before going pro.
It’s all or nothing since training camp is approaching and the season is just a few months away. Will we see the Heap who once achieved quarterback success early on or will we see the Heaps from college who bounced around between schools having trouble sticking to one program?
Only time will tell but one thing is for sure, he has his cross-hair set on making sure he’s in the conversation when cuts start coming this summer to be kept.
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