Charlie Weis had big hopes for quarterback Jake Heaps and running back Darrian Miller. They were both former blue-chip recruits, each looking for a second chance, and they offered the kind of optimism that was often absent in the Kansas football program.
Last fall, Heaps was the prized transfer from BYU, set to take the reins at quarterback, and Miller was the former top recruit, back in the program after a year spent at junior college.
One year later, both players are leaving a still foundering Kansas program.
Heaps is set to graduate this month and transfer to a new school, while Miller is leaving the team for “personal reasons,” Weis said in a release Friday. Junior receiver Andrew Turzilli is also leaving Kansas after graduating in May.
Heaps’ transfer had been expected since mid-May, while Miller, a Blue Springs, Mo., native, previously missed a chunk of games last season for what Weis had also called “personal reasons.”
Miller was recruited to Kansas by Turner Gill before being kicked off the team in early 2012 after Weis arrived. Miller returned to the program last fall after spending a season at a junior college.
Heaps came to Kansas with great promise in early 2012, just a month after Weis was hired. Brought in alongside fellow transfer quarterback Dayne Crist, Weis gushed about the quarterbacks who would guide his rebuilding project at Kansas. It didn’t go as planned.
Heaps, who sat out 2012, struggled in his first season as the Kansas starter, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Heaps was handcuffed by unreliable receivers and a shoddy offensive line, but he was never able to spark a passing attack that languished among the nation’s worst.
This spring, Heaps lost the starting quarterback job to sophomore Montell Cozart during an open competition. Heaps didn’t appear to fit the style of new offensive coordinator John Reagan, and by mid May, Weis appeared comfortable with Heaps’ inevitable departure.
As of Friday, Heaps remained quiet on his next destination. But he should be eligible to play right away as a graduate transfer after graduating from KU in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Once tabbed as the top pro-style quarterback in the high school class of 2010, Heaps will be heading to his third school. He spent his first two years at BYU.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by Coach Weis to play football and earn my college degree at the University of Kansas,” Heaps said in the release. “My wife and I have truly enjoyed being part of the Jayhawk community. We have made lifelong friends through this experience and we will always consider ourselves Jayhawks.”
Heaps’ exit means that the backup quarterback duties will likely fall to sophomore T.J. Millweard, a transfer from UCLA, or junior Michael Cummings, who has played in eight games over the last two seasons. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Darling, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East, is also on the roster.
Weis offered his thanks to Heaps and Turzilli in a prepared statement, but he offered no comment on the departure of Miller.
“Andrew, who graduated in May, and Jake, who will graduate at the end of June, have decided to explore other opportunities,” Weis said. “I’m proud that both of these young men leave Kansas as graduates. I would like to thank them for their contributions to KU football and wish them the best.”
Commitments — Weis picked up verbal commitments from two junior college players.
Garden City offensive lineman Jarek Smalley and College of DuPage defensive tackle Jacky Dezir both committed to KU on Friday afternoon, according to Rivals.com. The College of DuPage is located in Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Smalley, who is listed at 6 feet 6 and 315 pounds, graduated from Turner High in Kansas City, Kan. Dezir, who is listed at 6 feet 3 and 305 pounds, also had interest from Illinois, Colorado, Bowling Green and Massachusetts, according to Rivals.
Smalley and Dezir become the second and third members of KU’s 2015 class, respectively. Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis committed earlier in the spring.