LAWRENCE — The new Kansas football offense is no-huddle and spread out, and that sounds about perfect to senior quarterback Jake Heaps.
The new scheme looks familiar, he says, not so different than the spread attacks he ran at Skyline High School in Seattle and as a freshman and sophomore at BYU.
First-year offensive coordinator John Reagan has now had six spring practices to install the new system, and Heaps appears to be catching on fast.
“There’s a lot of similarity in what I did at BYU,” Heaps said. “I feel comfortable in knowing what we’re doing.”
Heaps has been such a quick learner — and so impressive thus far — that Reagan and head coach Charlie Weis added a new wrinkle to the ongoing quarterback competition on Tuesday. They relegated Heaps to the sideline for a good portion of the practice. The idea, Weis said, was to put more pressure on sophomores T.J. Millweard and Montell Cozart, the other leading contenders for the starting quarterback job.
“We’ll see how people respond,” Weis said. “It would be premature right now to say where we are, but I think … there’s clear separation at the position.”
While practices have been closed to the media this spring, this was the clearest sign yet that Heaps may have a modest edge over Millweard and Cozart for the starting spot.
At least to this point.
For now, nobody has won the job. But Reagan is still confident that a quarterback could emerge by the end of spring practice. When the cream rises, Reagan and Weis will unveil their starter.
“I don’t think anything has changed in our belief that that could happen,” Reagan said.
Heaps, of course, is hopeful that he will be the guy. After a frustrating debut season at Kansas, he’s entering his final year of eligibility with a renewed sense of urgency. Last year, it simply didn’t work. He completed just 49 percent of his passes and threw 10 interceptions. Midway through the year, he lost his starting spot to Cozart.
“There’s no sense dwelling,” Heaps said. “The only thing you can do is use it as motivation.”
Heaps used the winter to add five pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame — he’s up to 215 pounds now — and hopefully some speed to his arsenal. In the Jayhawks’ old pro-style offense, Heaps says, he was never asked to make plays with his feet. But the new spread scheme has some option plays involved, so Heaps would like to dispel the notion that he’s not a mobile quarterback.
“There’s a difference between being mobile and being a running quarterback,” Heaps said. “I know that I’m a mobile quarterback. I know that I can make plays with my legs and do whatever I need to do … that wasn’t really asked of me last year.”
Staff changes — KU coach Charlie Weis has continued to make additions to his football staff. Former KU offensive lineman Ryan Cantrell has joined the staff as the assistant director of football operations. Cantrell spent the past two seasons working as a graduate assistant at Rice under Reagan.
Earlier this spring, Weis hired former Chiefs assistant Bernie Parmalee as a quality-control coach for special teams. Parmalee’s son, Tre’, is a receiver in the KU program.