Brett Heggie came to Florida as a big time center prospect and that is where he spent all of last season practicing. He also came to Florida with a banged up wing. A broken wrist slowed his development when he first showed up
"I broke my scaphoid my first game of my senior year in high school,” Heggie said Wednesday. “I played nine games with it, and I didn't know it was broken. So then I had surgery and I was in a cast for eight months. It took a long time to heal. It took probably about a year to heal completely."
That timeline would put the healing process into the start of last football season. With that in mind, he wasn’t able to push to get in the field early in the year and that turned into a waiting process that would last the whole season.
"Bowl week I started to feel a lot better, I used it a little bit more,” he said. “It's still trying to get rid of bad habits and using my hand. So it's an everyday fight with me, but I've come a long way, so I'm happy with that."
One of the things that came with playing with a bad wing was using bad technique because of the pain and to protect the wrist.
"I couldn't bend, especially when I got out of my cast,” he said. “I couldn't bend it, so I had to do a lot of rehab. And then in high school that whole year I really couldn't use it, so I was blocking a lot with my forearm. So, when I got here I was doing the same thing, and you can't do that, especially at this level. You have to be fundamentally sound the whole time. So, just really trying to use it as much as I can."
He spent the couple of months leading up to spring ball just strengthening his wrist and during this period he has been working on that technique. Things have gone well and he is pushing for playing time in a big way, often times lining up at the starting left guard spot.
“This spring I think I’ve made some big strides because my wrist is completely healed and I’m more comfortable with the play book,” he said. “Both of those have been a big aspect of my spring so far.”
“The mental part of it with the playbook, I think I've got it down over a year now. So that's good. And then my wrist, again, the physical aspect has been a lot better. But I'm still working towards getting better."
He played center throughout high school and came to Florida expecting the same thing. The move this spring to playing more at guard has been a good experience for Heggie.
“Left guard, yeah, it’s been going great,” he said. “It took me one practice to get used to it. I’m doing a little bit of both right now, but that’s where I’m at right now.”
He can be a little more physical laying guard without all the mental attention that center requires.
“Well you have your hand in the dirt, so you have to be faster off the ball,” he said of playing guard compared to center. “You really don't have to make as many calls, so you don't have to think about it too much. You just play ball really at guard."
There is also competition. He competes with T.J. McCoy and Tyler Jordan at center. He competes with Fred Johnson and Tyler Jordan at guard. The group seems to be tuned into playing as a group.
“Me, Tyler and Fred all have great relationships,” he said. “We all push each other. We all watch film together. So it's been a lot of fun this spring. We're just working hard."
He believes he has come a long way this spring, but he knows there is still a ways to go.
"Picking up the speed of the game… really learn the playbook,” he said when asked what has been the biggest challenge to playing the college game. “It's mostly mental. Once you get the mental stuff down then you're good. So once I got that down, once I got my wrist healed, I think I made some big strides. But I'm still working. I've still got a lot of work to do."
"I'm just trying to get better every single day to contribute to this team as much as I can."