Despite not being able to participate, Jake Heinrich is enjoying his time at the Semper Fi All-American game.
The four-star offensive lineman from Urbandale (Iowa) and Arkansas commit has been limited to hanging out at practices after having surgery to repair an arm injury last month.
“I haven’t done any physical activity at all,” Heinrich said. “I’ve got a hard cast on right now that keeps my arm bent, which is inconvenient. The coaching at this point is just really about installing the plays, so I’ve just been observing.”
Sitting out hasn’t put a hamper of the trip, though. It is his first time in California – the game is played in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles – and he said they were going to a Lakers game Friday night.
“It’s a lot of fun being out here in California,” Heinrich said. “(There is) beautiful scenery and the sun is out 23 hours a day it seems like.”
The vacation is a welcome event considering what he went through in December.
On top of having surgery, Heinrich’s would-be position coach at Arkansas, Sam Pittman, left the Razorbacks to join the coaching staff at Georgia.
Like many fans, he was caught off-guard by the move.
“He was actually in my house the Thursday before hand,” Heinrich said. “I hadn’t heard rumors. I heard rumors about (offensive coordinator Dan) Enos, actually, but he has the no-compete clause.”
A few days after the in-home visit, news broke about Pittman leaving, which Heinrich learned of thanks to a text from a friend.
“One of my buddies texted Saturday morning and all he said was, ‘Pittman UGA,’” Heinrich said. “I thought he was just messing with me. Sure enough, I looked it up on Twitter and there were reports.”
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema confirmed those reports in a press conference that afternoon.
“It was a bummer to say the least, but it happened and it is what it is,” Heinrich said. “It’s a business and he has to look out for his family just as much as I have to look out for myself and my family, so I’m no one to fault him on making the change.”
It wasn’t until the next day that Bielema reached out to Heinrich, who remains solid with the Razorbacks. He said he understood why it took so long to hear from the head coach.
“The day of, of course, he was putting out fires, scrambling, trying to get guys lined up and it sounds like he has somewhat of a list at this point, but nothing has gone public,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich – who hopes his schedule in California will allow him to watch Saturday’s Liberty Bowl – said he trusts Bielema to hire a good replacement for Pittman.
“I have no doubt that he’s going to make a great hire,” Heinrich said. “The thing about Coach Pittman was maybe his personality more than anything.
“He was down to earth and a relatable coach, so hopefully Coach B can find somebody with those qualities as well. That’d be awesome.”