The Gamecocks put a scare in Florida State early last season. Can T.J. Heath help them exploit the Rebels' inexperienced passing attack?
While blog coverage of games against FCS opponents can vacillate between boring and unnecessary, this, our weekly feature highlighting a player on the opposing team about whom our readers might not know a great deal, is both interesting and informative. Since even very dedicated college football fans often spend practically no time researching FCS players in whom they do not have some collateral interest (like that which we might have in third string Gamecock running back Darius "Tig" Barksdale), we can use this space to highlight one of their best players. This week, we are covering T.J. Heath, a Gamecock about whom you may be wondering, "Who is this guy?"Those who read the Clarion-Ledger Ole Miss blog this week might have seen Rod Walker's piece "Jacksonville State 101" (by the way, Rod, we've got a tall plastic red cup full of brown liquor for you in appreciation for your service during this period of interregnum; we're not ready to call you an FotC, but it'd be inhospitable to deny you brown liquor in September). In it, Walker gave mention to Heath, saying:
Cornerback T.J. Heath is one of the best at the FCS level and should be a good test for the mostly untested Ole Miss receivers.
In fact, the senior from Alexandria, Alabama is an FCS All-American by Associated Press, College Sporting News, and Sports Network. Must have some pretty ballin' stats, huh? Meh, not so much. He broke up 10 passes, recorded 34 tackles, and had six interceptions. Not to insinuate that the boy is a slouch, those interception numbers are pretty strong. But, by comparison, Javier Arenas had 70 tackles. If Heath were putting up the same numbers in FBS, he'd be Marshay Green with an exceptional number of interceptions.
But, he did have his season-high seven tackles against Florida State, so maybe Heath just has Greg Hardy syndrome*. One more note, T.J.'s full name is Lee Anthony Heath, Jr.**
While Heath is, probably, not the type of FCS freak that will find himself in the NFL come April, he is someone to watch for, if only for a few hours on Saturday.
*Also noted once former Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, who "wasn't feeling it."
**Might be an academic risk.