Before Todd Reesing won the starting quarterback job at Kansas in the fall of 2007, a look at the KU football passing records would have made one believe that the Jayhawks had stopped playing football in the run-heavy 1970s.
There was no evidence that the forward pass had taken hold in Lawrence. KU’s career mark for touchdown passes was 35. For a season, it was 18. The school’s career mark for passing yards was 6,410. For a season, 2,995.
Reesing would shatter all of those records and many more, setting a new standard for quarterbacking at KU. His career marks appear safe for years to come, but on Thursday, the Jayhawks received commitments from two quarterbacks who just might have the talent and the pedigree to push Reesing’s season records during the next three years if things go right.
Thursday morning, former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist announced on his Twitter page that he would be playing his final year of college football at KU. Later in the day, former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps decided to join Crist in believing that new Kansas coach Charlie Weis is the man to rebuild their once-promising careers.
“I got a call from Dayne this morning,” Heaps said. “We had a really good talk. We’re really excited to get this program moving forward and be a part of a great college town and a great environment down there in Lawrence. It’s a great opportunity for the both of us, to be with Coach Weis, who’s an amazing offensive coach. We can’t wait to get this thing rolling.”
It’s not every day that two former five-star quarterback prospects decide to attend KU — in fact, Kansas has never had a five-star recruit at any position until Thursday. But, then again, this is not a normal situation.
Weis is the guy who groomed Tom Brady into a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. That reputation helped then-Notre Dame coach Weis sign Crist, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2008 class according to Rivals.com. Crist was there for two years under Weis, but once it was his turn to start, Brian Kelly had replaced Weis as coach. Things didn’t go as planned under Kelly, who benched Crist this season in favor of Tommy Rees.
Crist has one year of eligibility left. Since he has completed his undergraduate work, the NCAA will allow him to play his final season at another school that offers a graduate program that Notre Dame doesn’t offer. Crist picked Kansas over Wisconsin and Division I-AA Delaware, and he will be eligible to play next season.
Weis, without a doubt, is the reason Crist will be a Jayhawk.
“He’s been instrumental in my life as a mentor, even for the past few years when he wasn’t with us at Notre Dame,” Crist said. “I give him so much credit for where I am today. He changed how I was as a player. I’ve never met anyone that was smarter in terms of football knowledge.”
Crist will be the favorite to lead KU next season. By securing a commitment from Heaps, the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2010 class according to Rivals, the Jayhawks should have a strong option in 2013 and 2014 as well.
Heaps lost his job this season to Riley Nelson a year after setting numerous BYU freshman passing records. He will have to sit a year because of NCAA transfer rules, which sets up well for Weis and KU.
“When Charlie Weis got the job,” said Jon Kirby, who covers KU recruiting for Rivals.com, “I made several calls around, and one thing people kept coming back to is he’s a very good recruiter. I think this shows what he can do.”
Sophomore Jordan Webb started all 12 games at QB this season. He completed 63.7 percent of his passes, threw for 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He started seven games as a freshman.
Both Crist and Heaps will have plenty to prove at their second stop.
“I’m incredibly hungry,” Crist said. “I want nothing more than just to play, to do whatever it takes to be successful with my teammates and have a great time playing football.”