July 13, 1999
Many believe the key to Florida State’s 1999 season is the play of
the offensive line. This year’s offensive front is regarded as one of the
best in the country by many preseason magazines and returns all five
starters, including All-American Jason Whitaker and All-ACC tackle Ross
Brannon. Responsible with overseeing them is Jimmy Heggins, who is in his
sixth season as offensive line coach at Florida State and his 14th overall
on the FSU staff. Heggins coached the tight ends and tutored the
noseguards prior to taking over the offensive line duties in 1994.
Heggins was an outstanding noseguard on Bobby Bowden’s FSU teams in
the mid 70s. He returned to his alma mater in 1986 as a full-time coach
after a year at Southwestern Louisiana where he coached USL’s defensive
ends. Prior to his stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Heggins was running backs
coach at Eastern Michigan for two years and at Western Illinois for a year.
While Florida State welcomes back all five starters from last
year’s offensive line, the Seminoles have produced a number of NFL caliber
offensive linemen including having an offensive tackle selected in the
first round of the two previous drafts. Seattle selected Walter Jones two
years ago and he started for the Seahawks as a rookie. Tra Thomas was
selected with the 11th pick of last springs draft by Philadephia. In fact,
the 1996 offensive line produced three NFL players with Clay Shiver
starting at center for the Dallas Cowboys in 1997 and Todd Fordham signing
with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In addition to his offensive line proteges,
Coach Heggins has a pair of tight ends he coach playing in the NFL in
Reggie Johnson (St. Louis) and Lonnie Johnson (Denver).
In 1999, Heggins welcomes back his entire starting five led by
Football Writers All-America Jason Whitaker at guard and All-ACC offensive
tackle selection Ross Brannon. However, both those starters and Jerry
Carmichael missed the spring with injuries so the fall could be interesting
with talented depth behind the returning veterans.
A native of Salisbury, N.C., Heggins began his collegiate coaching
career as a graduate assistant at East Carolina in 1980. He filled the
same role at FSU in 1981 and ’82.
Heggins came to Tallahassee to begin his playing career in 1974 as
a running back after gaining 1,670 yards and earning all-state honors in
North Carolina in 1973. A fullback his first two seasons with the
Seminoles, he made the switch to noseguard in 1976 (Bowden’s first year)
and was named the squad’s outstanding defensive player following the
season. As a senior, he led Florida State to a 10-2 record and a win over
Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl.
Heggins and his wife, the former Winifred Parker, have two
daughters – Andrea and Lauren.