Up Close: Roger Heinz

<I>Inside Carolina</i> recruiting writer Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each UNC football commitment. Look for his unique two-part profiles all season long. Today, he reports from Tallahassee on QB Roger Heinz.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During the early stages of North Florida Christian High School's 2002 season, the offense was stagnant. Coming off a season that included a state championship, the Eagles needed a spark.

Then, prior to a game with Chattahoochee (Fla.) on Oct. 25, N. Fla. Christian head coach Tim Cokely approached his quarterback to discuss a change in the game plan.

"We had all new wideouts and a new offensive line," said North Carolina football commitment Roger Heinz. "Things had not been going right in the first few games, so Coach told me, ‘This game, were going to really concentrate on [the passing game] and let you throw it 20-25 times and see what happens.'

By halftime, N. Fla. Christian led 49-0; and Heinz having just set a state record with six touchdown passes in a game. He was 16-of-20 for 315 yards and was retired by his coach for the second half.

"It was a lot of fun," Heinz said. "I felt great the whole night. On the bus ride home, it was such an incredible feeling knowing that you did that to a team."

The Eagles went on to win that game, 58-0. They finished the season 9-2, before falling in the second round of the FHSAA 3-A playoffs.

Yet, after throwing for 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior, Heinz's numbers were down slightly from last year.

In what amounted to just an eight-game regular season in 2002 (one of the Eagles' wins came by way of a forfeit), Heinz still completed 62 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns.

In four of those games, he played just one half. Heinz also endured pain from a dislocated pinky finger on his throwing hand most of the season. And, he ended the season with a dislocated shoulder, which he suffered in his final high school game.

"Roger is a tough player," said Tom Heinz, Roger's father. "I've seen him take shots in games and then come home and urinate blood.

"He's taken some real shots in his career, got up and continued to play."

Tom Heinz is a Florida State graduate whose oldest son Matt is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Seminoles. He coached his sons in little league and has obviously taken a significant interest in their academic and athletic development.

Clearly, growing up with his father's influence and his older and bigger brother toughened the 18-year old Roger Heinz.

"[Roger's] not a 6-foot-4, 230-pound guy, but he plays like it," Tom Heinz said. "I've heard a lot of the coaches say that he maybe didn't get rated as high as he deserved to be. But to watch him play…it's been one of the most exciting runs I've ever seen. For twelve years, he's done things that parents in this area have just been in awe of."

Heinz's gained 342 yards and rushed for seven touchdowns as well this season. He said his game is very similar to Darian Durant's, in that he can pick up yardage on the ground while ringing up impressive numbers through the air.

Durant and Heinz met briefly during a practice session earlier this season. A handshake was all they had time for then.

"I'm really looking forward to watching [Durant] play up close and learning the little tricks that he has up his sleeve," Heinz said. "He manages to get out of many jams when he's playing."

"We think Roger will play much like Darian Durant," Tom Heinz added. "Both are quick, elusive quarterbacks. When we looked at North Carolina, we looked at that – whether he would fit into that type of offense. Roger can play that game. He has the fast release and can make quick decisions.

"His ability to look up field and find somebody after breaking into a run – that was something that I told Roger he could bring to North Carolina and continue that tradition."

Perhaps even more striking is the number of interceptions he has thrown over the past two seasons; or lack thereof. After giving up just seven picks last year, Heinz shaved that number down to a miniscule four this season.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow …

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