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A Heap of Trouble Arizona State's Todd Heap knows how to cause a stir--on and off the field

Oct. 09, 2000
Oct. 09, 2000

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Oct. 9, 2000

Olympics 2000

A Heap of Trouble Arizona State's Todd Heap knows how to cause a stir--on and off the field

Arizona State junior Todd Heap may eventually go down as one of
the best tight ends in Pac-10 history, but more than his
highlight-show catches set him apart from the average college
kid. Heap is as complete a person as he is a player. "I love the
guy, and so does my daughter," says one member of the Sun Devils
coaching staff.

This is an article from the Oct. 9, 2000 issue Original Layout

Though he's a rugged 6'5", 250 pounds, Heap has an ear for
classical music and often celebrates Mother's Day by whipping up
a gourmet meal for his mom, Deena. A business major, Heap also
likes to live on the edge by snowboarding, surfing and
cliff-diving. Of course, none of those extracurricular activities
prevent Heap, a devout Mormon, from attending church every
Sunday. So what does Sun Devils coach Bruce Snyder like most
about Heap? "That his family lives here, in Phoenix," Snyder
says.

Indeed, about the only thing that kept Heap from going to BYU was
his desire to be near his large, tight-knit family. (It also
didn't hurt that Deena's cousin, former quarterback Danny White,
is in Arizona State's Hall of Fame.) Heap began work on his own
legacy shortly after joining the Sun Devils in 1998. On the first
play of his first game, he made a falling-out-of-bounds,
one-handed touchdown catch in the back of the end zone in Arizona
State's 42-38 loss to Washington. Heap hauled in only 12 passes
as a freshman, but four went for touchdowns.

Last year he emerged as the Sun Devils' go-to guy, leading them
with 55 catches (43 of which were good for first downs) and a
15.1-yard average. This season Heap has been a marked man,
constantly drawing double coverage. Still, he's tied for No. 1 on
the team with 15 receptions, and the attention paid him has
helped open the outside for speedy receivers Donnie O'Neal and
Richard Williams.

Against San Diego State on Aug. 31, Heap, running a streak route,
narrowly missed making a fantastic, fully extended,
over-the-shoulder catch. "Any other player that's an incredible
catch," says Snyder. "For Todd, that's a drop." Against UCLA last
Saturday, Heap caught four passes for 86 yards, but the Sun
Devils (3-1) suffered their first defeat, 38-31.

Last winter Heap took his athleticism to the hardwood, following
in the footsteps of his grandfather Theo and great uncle Verl,
both of whom played basketball for Arizona State in the 1940s. In
limited action Heap emerged as a crowd favorite for his hustle
and bruising work under the boards. In the upcoming season he has
a chance to earn more significant playing time. "Todd is the
ultimate competitor," says basketball coach Rob Evans. "You put
him in the game, the intensity level is fixin' to go up."

Heap caused a stir this summer when he admitted to indulging in a
little cliff-diving, from 65 feet up, into a lake in Box Canyon
near Payson, Ariz. Snyder blanched when he overheard Heap telling
the story to a local radio station: "I said, 'What! Are you
trying to kill me?' That's Todd. He squeezes a lot out of life."

Says Heap, "Just make sure you don't tell Coach about the time at
Lake Powell I did a backflip from 45 feet up."

--Alan Shipnuck

COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT TROYANOS