NCF Nation: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo sat down with Charlie Weis last January to talk about the possibility of joining the Jayhawks staff, but had one big question among many, even as a defensive coach?

What's the deal with the quarterbacks?

[+] EnlargeJake Heaps
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsKansas' coaches have been encouraged by Jake Heaps' leadership and accuracy.
Weis explained that a pair of transfers -- Dayne Crist from Notre Dame and Jake Heaps from BYU -- were in the fold, and Campo took notice. He knew Heaps from the passer's days in Washington as the nation's No. 7 quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class, where he originally signed to be a Cougar and won playing time immediately.

"I felt, hey, the program has a good chance to be in good hands," Campo said.

After a year turning heads on the scout team, Heaps has emerged as the Jayhawks' starting quarterback this spring, but the big question awaits: Will Heaps' experience be any different than Crist's?

Crist came to Lawrence with plenty of fanfare, but finished the season on the bench in favor of freshman Michael Cummings. Crist struggled, completing just 47.7 percent of his passes and throwing nine interceptions to just four touchdowns -- none to wide receivers. Two of those costly turnovers came in come-from-ahead losses in nonconference play to Rice and Northern Illinois that could have helped KU surpass its two wins from 2012, too.

"There are two things that stick out to me. No. 1, he is very, very accurate," Campo said of Heaps. "I think that’s the thing that hurt Dayne the most this past year, was getting the ball to people when it really counted. Jake is very accurate."

Crist completed just 59 percent of his 294 attempts at Notre Dame in 2010, his only other season as a full-time starter, but Heaps hovered just above 57 percent in his two seasons as the Cougars' starter. In Kansas' spring game, he completed 10 consecutive passes at one point, tossing four touchdowns and racking up 257 yards on 20-of-28 passing. Campo saw plenty of that in practice this spring, and expects more in the fall.

"He’s a tremendous competitor. I like the quarterbacks who are going to take the bull by the horns and get out there and get after it," Campo said. "As a defensive coach looking at it, that’s what sticks out most to me, a guy that when the chips are down, a guy who can make plays. Obviously he has not been in a game here in the Big 12 yet, but I think you’re going to see that this guy is a winner and a leader, and those are the things that we really need back there."

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