After a lengthy teleconference with UM graduate transfer QB Jake Heaps (who played two years at BYU before transferring to Kansas, sitting out a year there and playing last season at Kansas), here's most of what he talked about:
(Note: He was completely friendly and open and talkative. Should be fun to cover him.)
** He said "it's absolutely vital" that he wins the starting quarterback job. "For me I made this decision for a reason. I didn't come here to be the backup. I came here to play, but you have to come and earn that. No one is going to give that to you and that's what I knew coming into this situation and that's what I wanted. I didn't want anybody to hand me a job. I wanted to come in and earn it. That's the only true way you're going to earn your teammates' respect and gain their confidence in you. So for me, I'm very excited about this opportunity. This is my last year. I've given everything I have at this thing and it's extremely important for me to perform well and to do well -- not only to win the job but for my goals and aspirations down the line as well.''
** He arrived in late June and has been basically living in the UM football facilities unless he's sleeping. "Living the freshman life again in terms of dorms, that has been very interesting going from where I was. But honestly it's been great. It's been a great opportunity for me to just come in and focus 100 percent on football -- go to class and take care of my responsibilities outside. ...Honestly, the only time I really go back to my dorm room is to go to sleep.''
** His wife arrives Wednesday and they already have an apartment ready to move into. He said he'll be back in the dorms during fall camp.
** He thinks coach Al Golden is "doing things the right way.'' He is impressed with Golden's attention to detail and doing things right. "The thing I get from Coach Golden is I think he's done a great job with this program. I think he's done a great job of implementing his ideals into this team and into this culture. Coach Golden likes to do things a very particular way. I wouldn't say it's a disciplinarian style, but doing things the right way, that's the way I'd describe it -- making sure you're on time; making sure you're doing all the little things correctly. The guys have responded very well to it. He cares about the guys. He makes sure you're doing all right, you're doing OK. The best thing is that he doesn't want to leave anybody stranded. He's about trying to help people be successful and reach their potential.''
** He said there has been no dissension among the quarterbacks or any of the teammates regarding his arrival, and that everyone has been welcoming and supportive. "Many times you're in a situation with quarteback battles [and] it's very easy to find a team that has a divided locker room, that in a lot of situations don't handle this situation very well. It's a testament to the group of guys in this quarterback room that there hasn't been any division. Everybody has an understanding that we're all trying to do what's best for this team.''
** He said he's been through transitions to new playbooks before, and a big part of it is adjusting to the new language.
** He said he is impressed with all the talent around him.
** He said he's been here for one month "and it's been vital for me to get in front of these guys, show them that I'm a hard worker, show them what kind of guy I am; let them get to know me; let them see me throw. The only way they're going to jump on board or I'm going to gain their respect is by them watching me and interracting with me. I've tried to come in and be nobody else but myself and come in and work hard and show these guys how much I love the game of football. ...I think they've come to an understanding that this guy is all about the team and is all about wanting to do whatever it takes to win. That's been important. It's gone extremely well. I'm extremely excited to be on this team. These guys are great. They've embraced me and have welcomed me in and I'm very grateful for that.''
** Here's how Heaps describes his style of play: "I'm a pro-style quarterback. I'm a dropback quarterback. I can read defenses extremely well, manage the situation, manage the game, understand the game. I really love the game of football. I feel like my strengths fit really well with what we're trying to do here. The offense that Coach Coley has is a true pro-style offense. We have the personnel to run it and I feel good about who I am. I'm not going to be taking off for 80-yard touchdowns or anything like that, running, but I'll definitely be distributing the football. I feel very confident in my abilities as a passer and I'm excited to be working with these talented receivers and tight ends. It will be great.''
** On young, incoming quarterbacks Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier: "They've done a good job in terms of handling being freshmen. Like I said earlier about our quarterback room, we're all competing but we're all helping each other out as well. It's important to let those guys know that you care. If we're all going to be here and we're going to go through a season together we might as well enjoy each other. I've been in situations where it hasn't been like that and it's not very fun. I think doing my part and helping in any way is important and letting those guys know that it's not just about football but I care about them as teammates and as people as well."
** He said skill-wise, Kaaya and Rosier "are talented guys. Brad is more of your true dropback passer and Malik is more of your throwing and running. I think they're going to be good here.''
** He's "loving'' the Miami culture. He said he went to church his first Sunday here and had to "wear a translator. There were people who have to translate. I had to wear headphone. It was very cool. I enjoyed the mix of cultures and the diversity. It makes it a lot of fun. It's an exciting opportunity and it's fun to experience it. So far I've been really loving it and enjoying it and soaking it all in."
** On what he needs to improve at based on his experiences at BYU and Kansas: "One of the things you can point out is making sure when the pressure is coming on that I'm making sure that I'm making the right decisions -- my mobility. I'm definitely not a runner, but I know that I'm confident in my ability as being mobile and putting myself in the pocket and moving around in the pocket and opening myself up for throws. To have an opportunity to play with the offensive line here at Miami, these guys are extremely talented. It's been a lot of fun getting to work with them. I feel very good. I'm not going to be the guy that is going to go around and scramble for my life. But when you're having to make sudden movements in the pocket, that's something that I've been working very hard to be extremely efficient at -- not just moving in the pocket but when you're having to do so, being accurate with those throws when you're making off-platform throws.
"The obvious thing is working on the playbook and making sure I'm studying the playbook as much as I can to where I'm comfortable at camp.''
** On offensive line and other teammates: "They've been great. I've had a chance to get to know them. That's been important for me, letting these guys get to know me on every front -- offense, defense, every position. It's been important because especially in this unique situation, these guys have to know you. They need to know you in order to follow you or let you be the quarterback. Coaches can appoint that, but it doesn't always mean that's going to work out. It's vital for the team to feel 100-percent confident. So, I've had a chance to hang out with them and it's been great. Camp is coming up and we'll bond even more through that experience as well.''
** He described the Miami fan base as "passionate.'' He said the fan bases he came from were "great fan bases. They were very loyal and supportive,'' and "especially at Kansas "it was a great situation. Everything was great. They treated myself and my wife extremely well. We were very a part of that community. It was a tough thing to leave, but the football situation just wasn't the right fit, wasn't the right place.
"So far with my interractions down here at Miami the fans are very passionate, they're very supportive about the University and about Miami football in particular. They want to see us win. They're hungry to see us win. They're hungry to see us perform. And I think that motivates us as a team to go out there and perform as best as we can. It has been fun getting the chance to interract with the fan base as much as I have. It hasn't been a ton, but the interractions I've had I've really enjoyed them."
"We feel very confident about who we are as a football team and what we can accomplish as a football team. We're all very excited to get this thing going.''
** He said he'll play every down like it's his last.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN