Practice Tour: T.J. Leifheit

WILMINGTON, N.C. --- This season, a young Hoggard squad will rely heavily on its offensive line, which is anchored by four-star offensive tackle T.J. Leifheit.

"We've got a great O-line, so we're really going to use our O-line to our strength," Hoggard assistant coach Keith Wood said. "We've got some big bodies – we've got T.J., we've got Cooper Dumas playing right tackle about just as big as T.J.

"We're really going to use our O-line to run the ball. We don't really have a passing quarterback, more of a running quarterback. We're going to try to throw it a little more than last year, but still we're going to be run oriented and that starts with our O-line."

One of the wrinkles added for this coming season is pulling Leifheit. Hoggard experimented with pulling the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder some last season, but will use it regularly this fall.

"We're going to do a lot of T-pull – a lot of old Clemson stuff when Tommy Bowden was there," Wood said. "T.J. has great feet so we're going to use him in that situation."

Leifheit is excited about the new role.

"I'm like a fullback almost pulling around right through the hole," Leifheit said. "I love it, because I'm going to get a running start to hit somebody downfield – normally a smaller guy."

Before ending his prep career, Leifheit would like to contribute to Hoggard's winning tradition – especially after suffering an uncharacteristic second round playoff exit last season.

"Conference championship, state championship – those are our two expectations," Leifheit. "A lot of it has to do with being Hoggard and the tradition we have here – we've won seven straight conference championships and we want to make it eight this year – [and] also the desire of all the guys to keep winning."

With the new conference alignments, Hoggard's conference got much more difficult. Joining the Mideastern Conference this fall is 4A football powers New Bern (N.C.) and Greenville (N.C.) Rose, which have won six state championships combined – all but one coming in the last decade.

To alleviate stress during the season, Leifheit narrowed his list of schools under consideration to five.

"It's a relief already," Leifheit said. "I'm not getting bombarded every day with emails – people email me ‘Call me,' ‘Please call me.' It's good to just have my top five and be able to manage everything now."

Leifheit's final five consists of Florida State, LSU, North Carolina, Southern Cal, and Tennessee.

"I had outstanding visits when I went to all of them during the spring," Leifheit said. "And I just have a great relationship with all the coaches – that's probably one of the biggest things that put them in my top five is just the relationship I have there."

The next step for Leifheit is to start scheduling his official visits.

"I'm trying to schedule the Southern Cal one on our bye week, which is in the beginning of October, because it's a west coast trip," Leifheit said. "I really haven't had a chance to sit down and look at all the games. I'm probably going to start doing that the next week or so."

Leifheit, who will graduate from high school in December, says he will announce his collegiate decision in October.

T.J. Leifheit

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