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WVU football: Kansas' Heaps, Weis together after all

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Jake Heaps was the top-rated quarterback in the recruiting class of 2010 and he had plenty of possible destinations for college.

That included the University of Notre Dame, where Coach Charlie Weis had started 9-3 and 10-3, but followed those triumphs with records of 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6.

Heaps picked BYU, though not because Weis had signed the top quarterback in 2008, Dayne Crist, or three others in the 2010 class, including Tommy Rees, who starts for the Fighting Irish.

"He really wanted to come to that school I was at, but he thought I might get fired, and he forgot to tell me that he was going to be right," said Weis, who was fired before Heaps signed his national letter of intent with the Cougars. "He had better foresight than I did."

Neither could have predicted this, though: Heaps and Weis are together after all at the University of Kansas. Heaps set all of BYU's freshman passing records in 2010, but lost his job to Riley Nelson a year later and decided to join Weis as he took over at Kansas last season.

"I never said that to him at the time he was recruiting me, but once we got a chance to talk, he was like, 'Why didn't you come to Notre Dame? What's wrong with you?' Then I told him what I was thinking," said Heaps, who had to sit out last season.

"That just goes to show you that Coach Weis and I have had a really good relationship over the course of numerous years. That was one the main attractions for coming to Kansas."

Heaps may start for the Jayhawks Saturday when they play host to West Virginia (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) at noon from Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by Root Sports as Kansas (2-7, 0-6) looks to end a 27-game Big 12 losing streak.

Heaps might sit in favor of freshman Montell Cozart, who has only run for 113 yards and passed for 133 in playing time that's gradually grown since his debut four games ago, but who has also been identified by Weis as part of the future at Kansas.

It's also conceivable Heaps and Cozart will share snaps because Heaps has completed barely half of his 213 passes for 1,204 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Whatever the arrangement is against the Mountaineers, Weis and Heaps are both searching for redemption.

"Here at Kansas, we're all in the same boat right now," Heaps said. "A lot of people are kind of down on us, and rightfully so. There are a lot of reasons why. Until we show something different, people are going to continue to say things about us.

"But that's been the fun thing about it. That's the reason we've been able to come together here, not just as players, but as coaches as well. There are a lot of people doubting us and Coach Weis. We have a lot to prove. When you win, that changes the perception about you. It's not about talking about it. It's about actually going out and doing it."

That hasn't happened for Weis or for Heaps, though Weis has been careful to protect Heaps and point out drops and bad routes and other shortcomings from the receivers.

Kansas is ranked last in the Big 12 in passing, total and scoring offense. If it ends that way, it would be the second straight season the Jayhawks have finished last in arguably the three strongest indicators of a team's success in the conference.  

Yet Weis had been renowned for his offensive accomplishments as the coordinator with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. He helped the Patriots win Super Bowls and in one season with the Chiefs engineered a six-win turnaround and an offense that ranked No. 1 in rushing, 11 in scoring and 9 in total offense.

Then again, Weis returned to college in 2011 and the Florida Gators were No. 105 in total offense, 89 in passing, 73 in rushing and 71 in scoring, though against SEC opponents that ranked Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 18, 28, 58 and 81 in total defense.

"I know Coach Weis for him being the great offensive coordinator he is and the great quarterback coach he is, and now being here last year and seeing it for myself, it couldn't be more true," Heaps said. "Despite having a rough year passing (in 2012) and being one of the worst teams in the leagues in passing, it wasn't because of the system."

Crist transferred to Kansas to play his final season last year after tearing his right ACL in 2009 and rupturing his patella tendon in his left knee a year later.

He gave way to Michael Cummings as an option quarterback by the middle of the season. The Jayhawks then framed their offense around that.

"You don't know what's going to happen when the real bullets start flying, and I think that we all saw - Dayne admittedly, too; he's one of my favorite people of all time - he wasn't playing with a lot of confidence, wasn't playing with that air about him, that, 'I'm not worrying about my knees, I'm just going to go ahead and let it go,' " Weis said.

Unable to lean on Crist and what he knew about Weis' offense from their time at Notre Dame and unable to throw with Cummings, Kansas turned into a running offense and was quite good at it, finishing No. 52 nationally, but probably leading the country in tactics.

Heaps hadn't transferred to Kansas to hand the ball off, but what he witnessed last season let him know he made the right decision.

"I got to see how great of a play-caller he was by the fact that everyone and their dog knew we were going to run the football and he came up with a strategy every week, he changed things up and he threw people off and he did that with the run game in mind," Heaps said.

"It was just really fun to see that and to see him coaching and knowing what his strength and weaknesses are and going for it."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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