Jake Heaps long, strange journey home

May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Jake Heaps (3) drops back to pass during rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Jake Heaps (3) drops back to pass during rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seattle Seahawks signed QB Jake Heaps to a contract this week, bringing his bizarre football career full circle.

The signing of Jake Heaps caused barely a ripple of interest among Seahawks fans, and that’s all you need to know about just how imprecise and unscientific this business of scouting players can be.

Heaps was simply one of the most decorated high school players this nation has ever seen, certainly among the greatest prep stars the state of Washington has ever produced. As the BMOC at Skyline High School, Heaps won three state titles while putting up ridiculous passing numbers. As a result, he reeled in just about every accolade and award you can win, including state and national Player Of The Year honors. He was rated as the #1 QB recruit in the nation, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. even predicted he would be the first player picked in the NFL draft after he completed his three years of eligibility.

But then Heaps made the first of what would turn out to be several decisions that backfired. After sifting through hundreds of scholarship offers, he narrowed his college choices down to the hometown UW Huskies, and…… BYU? He stunned everyone by selecting the Cougars, and boldly proclaimed he was going to help spearhead a resurgence at the once-proud football school.

More from Seattle Seahawks News

But then…..reality. Whether it was a mismatch with the offensive system, or poor coaching, or that he simply wasn’t as good as it appeared….Heaps failed, miserably, at BYU. Midway through his sophomore year he was benched in favor of Riley Nelson. Before the Cougars even left for their bowl game that year, Heaps announced he was leaving the team and seeking a transfer.

This would become a familiar pattern.

His next stop was Kansas, where he was heralded as a coup for new head coach Charlie Weiss. After redshirting, he was never able to grab hold of the starting job and quit again, this time transferring to the University of Miami with one year of eligibility remaining. Heaps never had a chance with the Hurricanes. He couldn’t beat out freshman phenom Brad Kaaya (potentially a top pick in the 2017 draft), and ended his college career as he had spent most of the rest of it……as a backup.

Undrafted (obviously) he was signed by the New York Jets but couldn’t make their regular season roster.

And now, he’s back in Seattle where it all began.

Does he have a shot to make the team? It’s unlikely. Despite Seattle’s great need to find a viable backup for franchise QB Russell Wilson, he faces an extreme uphill battle. The team gave former TCU star Trevone Boykin a substantial signing bonus to sign after being un drafted, and they’re also giving Oregon and Eastern Washington star Vernon Adams a tryout. And then there the standing offer they have out to long-time backup Tarvarus Jackson. It’s likely he returns at some point, as there simply aren’t any opportunities around the league for him to battle for a starting job as he had hoped.

The most likely scenario is that Jackson comes back and Boykin is kept on the practice squad. It’s possible that the Hawks choose to save some money and have Boykin serve as the primary backup, which may open a practice squad spot. For that to happen, both Boykin and Heaps would have to shine in OTA’s and training camp. Sadly, Heaps has done nothing to suggest that may happen for him.

Next: Dan's Seahawk shadow draft

Most likely, he’s an extra camp arm. Usually, NFL teams need at least four quarterbacks in camp just to make sure they can get in all the reps and work needed for receivers and backs.

Still, it’s a nice story, and it’s great to see him embrace the opportunity with such enthusiasm.

It does make you wonder if things would have turned out better for Heaps if he’d made different choices along the way.