Coach Jimm Heggins' offensive lines have played a key role in the recent resurgence of Kentucky football.
Last season, the UK O-Line ranked fourth in the nation in fewest sacks allowed and 11th in the country in fewest tackles for loss allowed. And, despite massive graduation losses from the 2007 offense, Kentucky went to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and won a third-straight bowl game.
It was a continuation of the success enjoyed by Heggins, who arrived at Kentucky in 2005. With the help of Heggins' forward wall, UK improved its scoring offense and total offense each of his first three years on the staff. The Wildcats won a pair of Music City Bowl championships in 2006-07.
One of his best coaching jobs came in 2006, as injuries sidelined nine linemen during the season. Heggins had to field eight different starting lineups during the bowl campaign, with six different players starting at the right guard position.
Heggins' group will have plenty of competition this year with the return of three starters, six additional lettermen and five redshirts.
Heggins came to UK from Florida State, where he enjoyed great success during his 19 years with the Seminoles.
"The players that Jimmy coached at Florida State speak to the type of coach he is. When you have that many All-Americans and National Football League players, you know you have someone who can coach sound, fundamental football," Brooks said.
At FSU, Heggins coached nose guards (1986-89), tight ends (1990-91), and tackles and tight ends (1992-93) before taking over all of the offensive line in 1994. In his 19 years at FSU, the Seminoles went 195-38-2, won The Associated Press national championship in 1993 and 1999, and went to 19 consecutive bowl games, including six Sugar Bowls, five Orange Bowls, three Fiesta Bowls, two Gator Bowls, and one All-America Bowl, Blockbuster Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992, the Seminoles have won 11 league championships.
After Heggins was named offensive line coach in 1994, Florida State O-Linemen earned All-America honors 12 times, including eight
first-team All-America choices. His offensive linemen garnered 18 first-team All-ACC selections and 12 second-team All-ACC picks.
Heggins coached 10 Seminole offensive linemen who were selected in the National Football League draft. Seattle selected Walter Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in 1997 and he started for the Seahawks as a rookie. Tra Thomas was selected with the 11th pick of the 1999 draft by Philadelphia. Both have become All-Pros. In fact, FSU's 1996 offensive line produced three NFL players with Clay Shiver starting at center for the Dallas Cowboys in 1997 and Todd Fordham having played for three pro clubs. Brett Williams, who was twice named the ACC's top blocker, was selected by Kansas City in the 2003 draft along with Todd Williams (Tennessee Titans). Two more were added in 2005, with Alex Barron a first-round choice by St. Louis and Ray Willis a fourth-round pick by Seattle. Milford Brown was taken in a supplemental draft following the 2002 season. In addition to his offensive line protégés, Heggins coached a pair of tight ends who enjoyed NFL careers in Reggie Johnson and Lonnie Johnson.
A native of Salisbury, N. C., Heggins went to Florida State in 1974 as a running back. After two seasons in the offensive backfield, he moved to nose guard in 1976, Coach Bobby Bowden's first year at FSU, and was named the team's most outstanding defensive player.
After graduation, Heggins became an assistant football coach and head track and field coach at South Miami (Fla.) High School. He began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at East Carolina and Florida State. He coached the running backs at Western Illinois and Eastern Michigan, and the defensive ends at Southwestern Louisiana, before returning to his alma mater.
He has two daughters, Andrea and Lauren.