Up Close: Roger Heinz, Part II

<I>IC</I> recruiting writer Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each and every UNC football commitment. Look for his unique two-part profiles all season long. Today -- the second installment on Roger Heinz.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Do the recruiting gurus and national publications have North Carolina football commitment Roger Heinz rated as high as he should be?

Many close to Tallahassee high school athletics believe, in Heinz, the Tar Heels are getting one of the nation's most underrated quarterbacks.

"I've seen the quarterbacks that are rated in our state; he's either one or two," Eagles head coach Tim Cokely said. "I mean, I haven't seen them on TV; I've seen them in person. So do I think the ratings are right? No, not if he's not No. 1 or No. 2."

Passing accuracy and good decision-making may be Heinz' most viable attributes.

Just do the math: 47/11 = TD/INT ratio over the past two seasons.

"That's the stat that we care about most here," Cokely said. "That touchdown-interception ratio is important to us, and he has just taken it to a new level. It's the best we've had here."

Yes, better than former N. Fla. Christian, Florida State and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Casey Weldon.

"That's who people in Tallahassee say [Heinz] reminds them of," Cokely said. "He's got a lot of the same characteristics. [Weldon] was a very athletic two-sport star here, which could run and throw.

"Roger can run and throw just as well, has a good arm and is very competitive," Cokely said. "But I guess his best attribute is from the neck up. You play quarterback with your head, and he's got a great head on his shoulders."

A child superstar of some sorts, Heinz also has learned a great deal about maturity over the last few years as well. According to his mother, it is Roger Heinz that has taken a great deal of the responsibility of raising Nicole, the youngest of the Heinz clan.

Although he is outwardly sure of himself, Heinz has really put things in perspective as a young adult. When Heinz was in the seventh grade, Cokely took some of his players to visit football-training camp at the University of South Carolina.

"None of the other guys could stand him," Cokely said. "They wanted to leave him behind at a gas station up at Columbia. He's been around our program for a long time now, and really grown up as a person."

Choosing Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina over Florida State also took guts, although Maryland, Clemson and Alabama topped a list of many options for Heinz. He won't have to go far to find competition, since his older brother happens to play for the Seminoles.

Heinz sifted through the courting coaches and, once again, the UNC staff came out on top.

"Every single coach seems to tell you what you want to hear," Heinz said. "They have the same statements. It's kind of neat to see how they each work individually.

"I met the [UNC] coaches and fell in love with the coaches. I know what they can do."

Will the Heinz household become a divided one?

"There might be a little rivalry," Roger Heinz said. "I don't know how our parents will handle it, but we'll handle it fine. My mom will probably wear a Carolina shirt and my dad will probably wear a Florida State one. It will all be fun.

Roger, with brother Matt

"It would be fun to stay in town and hang out with my friends, but they have been very supportive of my decision," he said. "Some of them have been friends for a long time, but I'm really looking forward to getting away from all that and meeting new people and seeing a new part of the world."

"He's making a good decision to go to North Carolina, because it is probably one of the best academic and athletic universities in the ACC or the nation for that matter," added Matt Heinz, Florida State offensive lineman. "I'm proud of him, because he'll be able to compete against me every year. Hopefully, he won't beat up on us too bad."

Heinz is so sure that he wants to attend UNC, he is willing to be a part of the Tar Heels' two-quarterback incoming class that includes Camden (N.J.) standout Nick Cangelosi, when most schools only bring in one quarterback per year.

That's not cocky, Heinz is simply very sure of his abilities and also hopes to achieve academically. He is not concerned with the Tar Heels' drop in wins this season.

"The record means nothing to me," Heinz said. "They had a little bump in the road, but who doesn't. All great programs go through it. I'm hoping that I can be an important part in bringing them back out of that ditch and get back to a winning record and back to some bowl games. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to show my stuff."

And while he spent most of his senior year working with a young and inexperienced receiving corps, he cannot wait to spread the ball around UNC's bumper crop of talented wideouts.

"I've never seen Michael [Mason] or Adarius [Bowman] play, but I've heard the [UNC] coaches speak of them," Heinz said. "I know that they're both great athletes. One's tall, and one's a little bit shorter and quicker. But from what I've heard, they're incredible. I'm extremely excited about throwing to them.

"Hopefully we will be able to do some good things up there at Carolina, and make the school proud."

Heinz and family watch game tapes.

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