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Sent on Mormon-News: 17Apr01

By Mark Wright

LDS Tight End Will Turn Pro Early, May Be Selected in First Round

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- Todd Heap is the kind of guy who can make waves wherever he goes. Whether he's cliff-diving 75 feet into a pool of water or jumping into the NFL draft, you know he's going to make a splash. A resident of Arizona, Heap is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is widely recognized as one of the top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft. Along with North Carolina tight end Alge Crumpler, Heap is expected to be selected near the end of the first round or early in the second round.

At just under 6-foot-5 and weighing in at about 250 pounds, Heap is big and strong and fits well in today's sophisticated passing offenses that require receivers to block, run quick pass routes, and have good hands. Surveying the tight ends available in this year's draft, Heap is generally considered to be the best pass receiving and route-running tight end. However, whenever his draft status is discussed, his blocking ability, or lack thereof, has sometimes been cited as a problem. Well-known sports writer and analyst Mel Kiper lists Heap as the number one tight end available in this weekend's NFL draft and says, "When you combine his impressive pass-receiving skills and 6-foot-4-inch, 252-pound frame, it's easy to see why Heap could provide great value in the latter stages of round one."

During his career as an ASU Sun Devil, Heap amassed a very impressive resume. He holds a number of ASU receiving records with a total of 115 catches for 1,685 yards and 10 touchdowns in only three seasons. Heap was also an outstanding high school football and basketball player who won All-America honors in football. After joining ASU, Heap played in every game as a true freshman and caught 12 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Heap was also selected as an all-Pac-10 tight end in 1999, when he caught 55 passes for 832 yards and 3 touchdowns. Heap was so impressive during his stint at ASU, he was nicknamed the "Golden Retriever."

While NFL draft predictions are highly speculative, there have been some preliminary indications that Heap might go to the New Orleans Saints late in the first round. Most analysts think that the Saints could improve their team considerably with the addition of a quality back-up for Cam Cleeland, the Saints' much-injured starting tight end. Cleeland is described as a good tight end who is somewhat injury-prone.

Accordingly, Heap might have an opportunity to step in and show his stuff if Cleeland can't play. NFL Draft analyst Mike Detillier is one of those who thinks that Heap is a good fit for what the Saints need. "The Saints had no production at tight end last year," Detillier said. "Even if Cam comes back (healthy), you're probably only going to have him for one more year, and then he's adios." Apparently, Saints general manager Randy Mueller seemed to be thinking along the same lines when he said the Saints might select a tight end in the first round. "Last season, in our West Coast offense, we could not use the tight end to threaten the deep middle. We couldn't use (the tight end) as a receiver like we wanted to." Words like that mean that Heap is certainly under consideration.

Like certain other famous LDS NFL stars such as Steve Young, Heap, 21, has put the idea of serving a mission on hold while he pursues an NFL career. However, given his physical stature and potential impact in the NFL, Heap could be making a pretty good name for himself and the Church in the next few years.


Heap of Faith
New Orleans LA Times-Picayune 14Apr01 S2
By Brian Allee-Walsh: Staff writer,The Times-Picayune
Arizona State tight end to give NFL career a long look before he leaps


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