DEVELOPMENTAL DEEP DIVE PART 5: SUPERBACKS
DEVELOPMENTAL DEEP DIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cut Line: 2 players
2014: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B/B-
2015: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B
2016: Cut Grade A/A- True Grade B
2017: Cut Grade B+ True Grade B
If you don’t know this name, you should. He just may be the best position coach at Northwestern.
In relative anonymity, Heffner has spent the past decade crafting one of the best position groups in the conference. In any given window in our model, here is what Heffner was asked to do: Find at least one star player and at least one very good back-up. In any given window, here is what Heffner was given to accomplish that goal: 6 to 7 total scholarships.
Dan Vitale–>Garrett Dickerson–>Cam Green. Done.
But to simply say Heffner has found the guys to get the job done isn’t giving him enough credit. Vitale’s choices coming out of high school were Northwestern, Central Michigan…and that’s it. Now he’s an NFL journeyman and walking Met-Rx ad, after putting in a fantastic 4-year shift for the Cats. A+.
Dickerson, meanwhile, was a high school phenom at defensive end who wanted a college that would let him play on offense. Heffner molded him into a New York Giant Tight End. Cam Green, as we often say on the pod, was the best player on the best team in the state of Illinois…as a wide receiver. Heffner bulked him up and turned him into a hugely important member of a Big West Champion. And we’ve only mentioned the headliners. Heffner has also crafted reserve cogs out of guys like James Prather, a converted 2-star linebacker with no other offer remotely as good as his Northwestern one.
Simply put, Heffner has turned every kind of player imaginable into a star, and he has done just fine with the guys he doesn’t make into stars. Heffner is why we can look at Trey Pugh, who caught a total of 3 passes in 2018 backing up Green, and KNOW Pugh will be great next year. Unlike just about every one of Heffner’s other stars, Pugh was actually a monster recruit AT SUPERBACK. For Heffner, that’s like slow-pitch softball.