We Knew TJ Before He Blew Up

In honor of TJ Heath making All-American, we thought it might be neat to run an interview we did with TJ this past Spring. Here it is:

After the J-Day game, Gamecockillustrated.com had the opportunity to spend some time with cornerback T.J. Heath, an Alexandria product who earned first team All-State honors in 2005. Coach Crowe described Heath as “a premier athlete” when he signed and he has not disappointed. Heath burst onto the scene with the Gamecocks in 2007 with an interception for a touchdown in his first series in a college game. He followed that up last year with 42 tackles and an interception returned for 41 yards. TJ concluded an excellent spring with several big plays in the J Day game including an interception for a touchdown.

Heath is clearly a big time player, but more importantly he is the type of player that will make the Gamecock Nation proud both on and off the field. He is a very good student and a respectful young man that gives a great interview. One of the things that impressed me most about TJ was when I asked him about his most exciting moment as a Gamecock, it was a team accomplishment- the defensive stand against Tennessee State that ended the 2008 season. T.J was also quick to give praise to his teammates and recognizes that he can always improve his game– two characteristics of the type of player that will win championships for JSU.

Here is a summary (some of T.J’s comments have been edited for space) of what TJ had to say about a variety of topics as we approach the 2009 season.

Heath On Playing for JSU:

Q: Why did you choose JSU?

A: A lot of it had to do with Coach Crowe’s style of coaching. It’s very intense. I came from Coach Larry Ginn. It was much the same type of coaching style so I thought it was a good place for me to be.

Q: Tell us about Coach Stewart?

A: Ever since I [arrived at JSU] he’s been a motivator for the defense as a whole. He works us hard every day. He doesn’t ever allow us to slack up and that’s one thing I love about him, he always keeps us intense and ready to play. He’s a great coach. I wouldn’t play for [anyone] else.

Q: What are your strengths on the field?

A: My main strength is probably coverage and I’m getting back to the more physical part {of the game after recovering from shoulder surgery]

Q: Is there any NFL player you try to emulate?

A. I like to look at Champ Bailey a lot. He is very aggressive the way he plays. .

Q: Who are you battling with for playing time?

A: Juwaan Booker and A.J. Davis.

Heath on the Opposition:

Q: How do you feel about opening with Tech again?

A: I’m very excited about the Tech game. [We had some early success against them last year]. This year with some things we have changed up it might be a pretty good game.

Q: What about FSU?

A: I’m definitely excited about that game. [I told Coach Crowe I am looking forward to the challenge of matching up with their great receivers]. I like challenges. The Florida State game will be a great challenge for us . . . I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Who would you consider your biggest rival in the OVC?

A: UT Martin is one of our biggest rivals. It’s always a great game.

Q: How was the matchup against UT Martin wide reciever, Micheal Hicks (an Ole Miss transfer)?

A: He had a pretty good game. I give him his props, but I’m looking forward to having him back here [in Paul Snow next year]. I know its going to be a different game.

Heath on his teammates:

Q: Who are some newcomers Gamecock fans should be on the lookout for ?

A: One is Juwaan Booker. He’s a red shirt freshman. I think he’s going to have a breakout year this year and people will start to know him a lot better . Another is A.J. Davis. A.J. is a tremendous player. He’s going to have a big year for us. Another player is Rodney “Texas” Garrott. He can play some ball. I was amazed [when I was him in practice]. He is an up and coming player. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action when we get face to face with Georgia Tech.

Q: Who is the fastest player on the team?

A: The fastest player on the team I have to say is Carnell Clark, #26. He’s a hard hitter who has no problem being physical and he plays smart. He has a great chance to play in the NFL.

Q: Tell us about Alexander Henderson?

A: He is an unbelievable talent. He had five consecutive tackles in a recent scrimmage. [The coaches] took him out and said ‘that’s enough, you’re done.’ He’s a great player for us and a big help on stopping the running game. I’m looking forward to seeing him out on the field.

Q: Who are the big hitters?

A: Number one is Carnell Clark; he is a big hitter. Every time he gets a chance he’s trying to hit somebody. Another is Morrell [Jones] he plays linebacker. He is a big hitter as well. Those two are probably the biggest hitters on the team. I’m coming along! Every time I talk to Carnell, he makes fun of me and tells me I’m a little soft, but I tell him all that’s about to change. I’m getting there.

Q: Who are some tough matchups among the Gamecock receivers?

A: Jeff Cameron. He’s really improved getting off the line. James Wilkerson is running some very good routes as well. .

Q: What about Tech transfer Greg Smith?

A: I had a chance to talk to him. I’m looking forward to seeing him make some plays out here with us.

Heath Off The Field:

Q: What do you like to do off the field?

A: Write music, play video games and just relax. I like to write some R&B music and a lot of gospel music as well. My favorite musician is Curt Franklin.

Q: What is your major?

A: Exercise science with a minor in business.

Q: How are you doing academically?

A: I’m doing great. I’m looking forward to graduating on time. That’s a big goal.

Q: What do you want to do after graduation?

A: I want to do something with my degree. I recently hurt my back and have been going to the chiropractor [it is really interesting to me]. If I don’t get to the next level, I’m probably going to go to chiropractic school.

JSU 88

Posted by JSU Gamecock Sports at 12:34 PM
Labels: Player Profiles
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