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UNC Football: Player Review Series Tommy Heffernan


Alright, the guy looks like Conan the barbarian, but that look is in right now. NFL linebackers Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk have the golden locks. Tommy Heffernan believes in the power of hair. His 2012 season stats back him up.

Last season, Tommy notched 72 tackles, without even playing in the final game against Maryland. He’s a rising junior with a lot to offer as he’s got two more seasons under Larry Fedora’s system. These next two seasons are going to be exponentially better for Heffernan in that he’s going to be the go-to-guy for the linebacker core. Give him two more seasons. He’s going to get to 100 tackles.

Heffernan will be filling the shoes of Kevin Reddick, who will graduate this year. Those are some large shoes to fill. I think he’s up to the task, though.

First, what he does well. He’s quicker than he gets credit for. By being able to hawk the ball and get there in a flash is what UNC needs next season. Tommy will be the one to deliver it. Heffernan also finishes tackles extremely well. Whenever the guy with the ball is in his vicinity, he’s going to the dirt. Watching him this season, I can’t remember a whole lot of broken plays that results in huge offensive gains. If Tommy gets his hands on his target, the guy normally goes down pretty quickly.

He’s got to get better at pass coverage. Heffernan didn’t have a single interception the entire course of the season. I understand that wasn’t his prime objective, but not one? Not a single interception? He’s got to put an emphasis on that during this offseason. Now this is going to improve a lot once Fedora’s cornerback class comes in. An improved defensive back core will force the opposition’s offense to throw more slants and west coast offense. Tommy should have improved chances next year to grab some pick-offs.

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