No brainer. Of course he would be there and the former Seminole (1983-86) would be decked out in FSU Garnet and Gold right along with the rest of the family, including wife Susan, oldest son Bruce Jr., next in line Ben, a senior; daughter Makenzie Faith, a junior; and the youngest Brett, an eighth-grader.
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Florida State will indeed be playing in Orlando in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday night, but there won’t be any garnet donned by the Heggie family. They’ll be all-in, with plenty of gold accenting navy blue, the official colors of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
And Bruce Jr., will not be in the stands with the rest of the family. He’ll be walking the sidelines, wearing No. 51, a sophomore back-up center/guard for the 2011 Irish football team. He might even get on the field.
He was on the field earlier this season for the first time at Notre Dame, making spot time at center against Air Force after injuries hit the Irish offensive front, most notably to starting center Braxston Cave, who was lost for the season in the same game.
He shouldn’t even be there, they said. Scour the Notre Dame message boards from the past and most members chimed in back then with their “expertise.” Said he’d never see the field.
Well, he’s already done that, so now what? Time will tell, as it has already.
Bruce Heggie Jr., a 2010 grad of Mount Dora High, a tight end and defensive end for Coach Chad Grabowski’s Hurricanes back then, wasn’t good enough, wasn’t big enough (at 6-4, 240-pounds), wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t … well, just wasn’t.
“I definitely am not the best athlete out there on the field. I’m not the most talented, but I would say that just through working hard, giving 100 percent and having the right attitude has helped me a lot,” Heggie said after Monday’s practice adjacent the Florida Citrus Bowl, venue for Thursday’s game.
It was a strange trip for Heggie, from Mount Dora to South Bend, Ind., and back to Mount Dora and Orlando. A round-tip two years in the making that would have confused any GPS system, and still has many college scouts scratching their heads.
Heggie entered his senior season at Mount Dora in 2009 with high hopes, but a groin injury set him back early, and as the season came to a close, the best he could come up with for a college scholarship was an offer from Florida A&M.
The Rattlers staff pulled that offer; told him no official visit.
He was back at square one. He did play six games, after missing the opening three with a nagging groin injury. He caught 16 passes and three touchdowns as a tight end, and had four sacks as defense end, but those weren’t quite the numbers expected.
Not even Dad’s alma mater, once a promising suitor of the young Heggie, would bat an eye his way. A player who came out of an FSU summer camp in Tallahassee to rave reviews, suddenly couldn’t even get a phone call returned.
Christmas passed. New Year’s came and went. It was beginning to wear on Heggie as the days crawled ever closer to National Signing Day. But Heggie kept working out, diligently following his daily schedule, keeping faith that someone, somewhere would give him a look.
Then it happened.
Somebody remembered Heggie as new head coach Brian Kelly began his transition from Cincinnati to Notre Dame.
"It was definitely surprising," Heggie Jr. said back then. "Notre Dame is an epic school. I certainly didn't see this coming. Especially after some of the other schools said they'd recruit me and then backed out of it."