New York Giants offensive lineman Brett Heggie, an undrafted free agent center who was one of three that signed with the Giants after the draft, knew when growing up that he just wanted to play football.
It didn't necessarily matter where he played or for what school. Heggie, who comes from a family of football players, just wanted to be a part of a program where he could contribute to something special.
For proof that he didn't ball, and it didn’t necessarily matter where or for whom.
Consider his upbringing. Heggie’s father, Tom, was a defensive end at Florida State, yet the younger Heggie decided to attend the rival school Florida and play o the offensive side of the ball.
“He definitely wasn't disappointed,” Heggie said of his father during a recent phone interview.
“I grew up in like a football family. My dad played at Florida state, my brother played at Notre Dame, and my other brother, Ben, went to school at Florida. So when I made my decision, my dad was definitely proud of me and he was all-in on Florida while I was there.”
Heggie’s journey to the offensive side of the ball happened somewhat organically, dating back to his high school years at Mount Dora High School.
“Yeah, it's just how it turned out with my body,” he said. “I just kept getting bigger and bigger. So I stayed on the offensive line.”
It turned out that Heggie, who did dabble a bit on the defensive side of the ball in high school, liked the offensive side better because he was not only able to learn the positions from his brother he also enjoyed being on the side of the ball that scored the points.
“I love being a part of a unit five guys getting all on the same page so that the other guys around us can make plays and score.”
Heggie's college career got off to something of a rough start, thanks to injuries.
But while some might have grown frustrated with the injuries, Heggie used the experience to further his growth.
"I definitely think I appreciated the game more," he said of the effects his injuries had on him. "Adversity is just part of the game, and you have to learn how to handle things that don't go according to plan.
"It's just dealing with adversity, learning to deal with adversity and taking past adversity with different injuries and applying it to different adversities that come in the future. I would say it does help your mental toughness for sure."
Heggie will need that thick skin this summer when the pads go on and the battle for a roster spot cranks up. Heggie, who has played guard and center, brings versatility to the competition, but there is another element that he hopes will serve him well as he competes for a roster spot.
The competition he faced in the SEC, one of the toughest divisions in college football.
"Yeah, I would just say in the SEC, everyone I played against was really good," he said. "You have to learn to adjust to the different style players, and I think that's something that really helped me out."
As is usually the case with an undrafted free agent, Heggie is embracing the opportunity before him and doesn't plan to squander it.
"A lot of guys don't get the opportunity to, to have a chance to play for a team in the NFL," he said. "So just getting that opportunity is definitely very thankful for it."
Thanks to his father and brother, Heggie knows that he has a long road ahead of him to build trust with his new coaches and teammates. But for him, it's just another process in what's been, at least thus far, a long and rewarding journey.
"You know, for me, it's all the same," he said. "It comes down to just working hard every day, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can every single day.
"So that everything kind of slows down and that I can just go out there and play and have fun with it and just keep working hard to learn how to be a pro and, and understand the offense."
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