SAN ANTONIO - Being around the U.S. Army All-American Bowl isn't new for four-star quarterback Jake Heaps, but this time he's finished a successful high school career and preparing to enroll at BYU in a matter of weeks.
This time last year, Heaps was a part of the U.S. Army All-American Combine where he had, what he admits, wasn't his best performance. Since then, he's completed his senior season which included 3,000 plus yards and 45 touchdowns and is ready to compete in Saturday's game as a 2010 All-American.
Don't call it redemption for that early performance, according to Heaps. He looks at his rough outing a year ago as just a bad day that could have happened to anybody, but an experience he learned from.
"Everyone who has truly seen me play knew what I was capable of," Heaps said. "Having that bad performance at a high level, at a combine, definitely was a bad taste in my mouth. I knew what I was capable of. I wanted to come out, go to some other camps and really prove to other people what I'm capable of.
"Camps, that was a big thing for me. I think I went out there and proved that. It was a lot fun to be around these great athletes, great coaches, and have the opportunity to get better and better at each camp I went to. Then to finally be here at the pinnacle of a high school career, is a great way to wrap it up and I'm really excited to be part of this thing."
After competing in the Army Bowl, Heaps will be packing his things and heading to Provo for the next stage of his career.
As for why BYU was his choice, Heaps explained being of the Mormon faith certainly was a factor in his decision. However, the whole program itself was what really sold him on being a Cougar.
"My faith had a little bit to do with it for sure," Heaps said. "It was an aspect, I felt like I could leave the university as a better player and better person. More importantly, I think the program that coach (Bronco) Mendenhall has developed at BYU is tremendous and it's really been amazing to me to see how it's progressed and to see the potential there."
When he chose the Cougars in a press conference, with other BYU commits Ross Apo (who is playing in Saturday's Army Bowl) and Zac Stout, it wasn't just for personal publicity.
Heaps said it was about helping BYU as much as he could with his public announcement.
"It wasn't to put my name out there, but to put BYU's name out there," Heaps explained. "It was fun for us to all do it together, but it was great for BYU's name to get out there to the national media."
Speaking of Apo, he'll be catching passes from Heaps all week during the West team practices, which Heaps thinks presents a great opportunitiy to build an early connection with his future teammate.
"This is the first time that I'll get to strap on the pads with Ross and see what the future can be," Heaps said. "We have an opportunity to showcase what the future of BYU football might look like. Also just the fact, this is the best of the best here. To be part of it is pretty amazing. I'll do my best to learn from it and gain whatever I can from it. It's going to be a lot of fun."
What's understandably the most exciting is that Heaps' high school career both on and off the field is officially over after this week. Arriving at BYU in two weeks is certainly on his mind.
"It's all happening really fast," Heaps said. "Watching them play Oregon State and seeing their potential and what they can do. Then with how they played against Oklahoma ... That's the real BYU that unfortunately didn't show in the Florida State and TCU games. They're capable of great things and I'm really excited to be a part of it. I think I fit really well into the offense.
"I'm really, really looking forward to being a part of it."