The time has arrived for BYU fans to heed the call to ‘Rise Up’ and cast their vote to send quarterback Jake Heaps to the semifinalist round for the 2011 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
Today is the day voting begins, as well as the day where BYU fans can begin the process of putting Heaps in the record books on a national level. Loyal football fans know Heaps came to BYU as the nation’s top recruit, and during his first year broke every freshman quarterback record in BYU history.
Heaps was nominated to the watch list back in July, along with 37 other quarterbacks from around the nation, for the O’Brien Quarterback Award. This watch list was selected by a subset committee of the O’Brien National Selection Committee comprised of 10 members.
“Really, it’s just a humbling experience,” Heaps said. “You dream about it — for personal goals — when you’re a little kid to be the Heisman winner or the Davey O’Brien Award winner or whatever it may be. So to be nominated for that award, to be among such great traditional quarterbacks, I feel blessed to be one of those guys. And it really doesn’t mean anything. I still have to go out there and prove that I deserve to be one of those guys.”
The O’Brien Award began in 1977, established by the Davey O’Brien Foundation. The foundation was founded to honor the exceptional leadership qualities, lifestyle and skills of Davey O’Brien, who led Texas Christian University to a National Championship in 1938. He also became the first player in history to win all three of the nation’s top awards: the Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp trophies.
In times past, the award was selected solely by the O’Brien National Selection Committee, which consisted of a number of media professionals and former award winners.
This selection committee has a long history with BYU. They’ve selected three former Cougars as the O’Brien Award recipient: Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Ty Detmer.
However, as history progresses, times change. Five years ago the Davey O’Brien Foundation opened up the voting panel to fellow students and fans. Their votes consist of 5 percent of the total vote in each round.
“We are one of the few awards that has a fan vote that means something,” said James Etter, associate director of the Davey O’Brien Foundation. “The 5 percent makes a difference that can either make or break the decision process. It is an opportunity for fans and the student body to show their pride by voting.”
On Oct. 24, 16 semifinalists will be selected to begin the second round. Three finalists will be selected on Nov. 21, followed by the selection of the winner on Dec. 8.
Even though the watch list seems limited to 38 players, Heaps will be competing with quarterbacks from all 120 NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools.
“Jake is up for it,” Etter said. “He has had a remarkable career so far at BYU. His talent and ability sticks out. He is a fine young man besides being a great quarterback. Those are the qualities the O’Brien Award is all about. ”
With the football program going independent, Heaps still being considered young in terms of social status and now being named to the watch list for the most distinguished award for quarterbacks in the nation, Heaps remains calm and focused on more than just himself.
“I want to be in the situation, I want our team to be in the situation where there are high expectations,” he said. “There are expectations for us to win every game, win a BCS game and win the national championship. Those are the expectations that we want and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So, there’s no pressure. It’s just exciting.”
To cast your vote for Heaps, visit www.voteobrien.org.