PARKER, Colorado – On Thursday morning, Jake Heaps spent four hours on the radio in Seattle, ending his last day as a co-host of a midday sports show.
Less than 24 hours later, he discovered that he was walking between flights among about 500 campers at Chaparral High School in Colorado, the market where he would build the next phase of his career and life.
Heaps boarded a plane to reach the greater Denver area for the first of many Russell Wilson Passing Academy camps after working with Wilson, the new star quarterback of the Broncos, in the last five years.
Heaps, a Washington-born player who played quarterback for BYU, Kansas and Miami (Florida) in college and spent three off-season portions on the NFL roster, will continue to serve at Wilson’s Passing Academy, but will also serve as a full-time working hours of Wilson, private quarterback coach.
“We did things between the season and all that, but after he moved to Denver – for me my home base was Seattle, so everything was somehow done and it was nice and in tune. But I think we can do what we want to achieve for Russell, what he wants to achieve in his career for the next 10 years here in Denver, there are many things we wanted to do not only for him and his career, but also for the Denver community in terms of training and all that, “Heaps told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “For me personally, this is a big change, but I’m excited to jump two feet and work with him super tight and do my best to be the best.
“It’s really about that.”
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Heaps and Wilson crossed paths for the first time when Heaps spent the off-season on the Seahawks roster, and then part of the 2016 campaign in the franchise’s training team.
“I was off the list for two years and we really just got in touch through work,” Heaps said. “He saw how hard I worked. I tried to beat him to the bar every day and through that we grew a relationship. I got a random phone call from (Wilson) asking me to take off and come train him at UCLA, and I said I was sure. We’ve been together ever since. It was really great to have that friendship and to have that trust that he has in me, and to have honest conversations and appreciate his game and do everything I can to help him be better. Whether it makes the things he struggles with better or just maintains what he does.
“It’s one of the best in the world, so it’s not like you’re trying to change everything in bulk every year, you’re just trying to make it 1% better every year and find ways to be better, stay sharp and be on top of things. ”
Wilson, of course, is learning a new offense in Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has suggested that building the book was a joint effort between the offensive staff and the quarterback.
But the system is at least somewhat familiar to Wilson because he played offensive coordinator Shane Waldron last fall in Seattle after Waldron trained with the Los Angeles Rams for four years under head coach Sean McVeigh. Hackett, meanwhile, has spent the past three years with another member of this McVeigh and Kyle Shanahan coaching Green Bay coach Matt Lafleur.
“There are a lot of mental aspects to what you need to work on, and make sure (Wilson) is keen on new plays and new aspects of the book by testing and questioning all these things,” Heaps said. … “There is knowledge, but it was really great to watch everyone work together to connect this thing and make everyone feel comfortable from the coaching staff to Russell to the boys on the team. It was really great and, to be honest, I’m amazed at where they are at this point between the installation season and where everyone is. “
Prior to the off-season program, Wilson hosted broad Broncos receivers plus the Lloyd Cushenbury Center at his home in Southern California to get a few days of work and build chemistry. The quarterback said recently that they would meet again next month, before Denver’s training camp begins on July 27.
“We will let the boys get away. We’ve been walking for 2.5 months now, so we’re going to let the boys get away, spend family time, do the right thing, travel, whatever, “Wilson said. “We will really spend some time in the last few weeks before we return. We’re going to spend some time down in Southern California.
Wilson, like several other top-level quarterbacks, has built an operation around himself that is designed to help him stand out despite all the time spent away from the facility. One week, between Thursday’s OTA practice and Tuesday’s practice, Wilson and his wife Ciara traveled to the Monaco Grand Prix and back. On another weekend, he flew to Dartmouth College, the alma mater of his late father, and several other family members to provide a starting address. A few weeks earlier, he had been to a Seattle Children’s Hospital event over the weekend.
Teammate Melvin Gordon joked: “When you make $ 30 million a year, you can fly a private plane wherever you want. But it’s all about football, man. It is locked. There is no other way to say it.
Wilson, for his part, describes the importance of the people around him.
“With an amazing team, my presentation team comes with me wherever I go. “My assistant helps with everything,” he said last week. “Everyone is super organized, so you never lose space and I think that’s the key thing. You never lose space. ”
Heaps is now a permanent member of this team. He will be in California for off-season training and then return to Denver to help Wilson prepare for the regular season. At the same time, he will be part of the group working to build RWPA camps, develop more high-class quarterback training opportunities here, and continue to expand the way Wilson’s presence in Denver is felt.
“He wants to be great. He is already great, but what he wants to achieve in the second half of his career, he wants to be special and I think he has the ability to do that in Denver, “said Heaps. “This organization was fantastic from day one with him and the boys were fantastic. Obviously this is the honeymoon phase and everything is great, everything is special, but I really believe that they have what it takes to make some noise and achieve the goals that everyone has. ”