Clint Heaven talks Vanderbilt

Clint Heaven has been on fire during Manatee's run to the Florida 7A State Championship game. In the quarterfinal matchup with Ft. Pierce Central he had 13 tackles, four pass deflections, a forced fumble and a sack to earn Player of the Week honors from his coaches. He was equally impressive this past week in the semifinal round against Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer.

"We've progressed as a team each week," said Clint Heaven on the playoff run. "We earned the right to face First Coast for State. I'm stepping up my game. I feel like it's my time to shine."

Heaven, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety, play's in the box in defensive coordinator Jim Phelan's 4-2-5 scheme. He recorded 14 tackles (10 solo) in the game against Dwyer. He believes his role as a safety/linebacker will only help him when he gets to the college level.

"It's helped improve my tackling ability," Heaven said. "I'm always attacking the ball trying to stop the run. My quickness helps make me versatile. I can play one-on-one coverage or cover two as a free safety."

Heaven will delve into recruiting after Friday's game with First Coast. He's already set two officials visits; the first with West Virginia on January 14th, and the second with Vanderbilt on January 20th. He's also considering visiting North Carolina, Illinois, UCF, and Iowa State.

"Vanderbilt's a great academic school in the SEC," said Heaven. "I like the coaching staff, the atmosphere, and the campus is setup nicely. It's just a solid all-around school."

While visiting Florida last week, Vanderbilt's Chris Beatty stopped by Manatee High School, located in Bradenton, Fla. to speak with Heaven.

"Coach Beatty was here last Tuesday," said Heaven. "It went well. I've been watching Vanderbilt play this year, and Coach Franklin has done an outstanding job bringing the program up from nothing. He's a great coach with a very likable personality."

Vanderbilt will likely have spirited competition for Heaven between now and signing day. Larry Fedora (North Carolina) and Tim Beckman (Illinois) will certainly make a push in piecing together their first recruiting classes. As of now, however, it's a tight race between the Commodores and Mountaineers.

"I want to go to a school with strong academics," said Heaven. "I'm definitely going to see what's going on in the coaching department. Location is important to me; a place I see myself being happy the next three or fours years of my life. I'm going to want to go to a program I'd feel like would be the best fit for me."

Manatee lost to Plant in the Florida 5A state championship game in 2009. Last season, they fell to St. Thomas Aquinas in the semifinals. This team will have the chance to right those wrongs on Friday, December 16th against First Coast of Jacksonville.

Heaven will play in the Brad Price Memorial PAL Bowl featuring senior All-Stars from Manatee and Sarasota counties on January 2nd.

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