Barron Collier coach Mark Jackson’s familiarity with Matt Heuerman’s football lineage is the reason he refuses to call his tight end by his last name.
He and Matt agree that living off a family name that has become an institution in Cougar Country over the last decade won’t nearly be enough to elevate him to the highest level of college football.
“He’s going to build his own way,” Jackson said of Matt, whose brother Jeff was a third-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos last spring after starring at Ohio State. His other brother Mike is a junior tight end at Notre Dame.
The Heuerman pedigree, along with Matt’s size, may have been what caught the attention of some college coaches, but it will be his performance at camps this summer that get him the offers he is seeking.
A little more film on the 6-foot-6, 200-pound two-star recruit, who is The News-Press’ No. 11-ranked recruit in Southwest Florida, wouldn’t hurt either.
Matt played just three games in a run-heavy offense last year under then-head coach Dan Pallante, catching five balls for 66 yards before suffering an AC joint sprain that ended his season. It was still enough for Division I FCS Jacksonville State to offer a scholarship.
Jeff and Mike were known commodities at this point in their prep careers, skyrocketing up recruiting boards. One would think the two cast long shadows.
Matt said it’s exactly the opposite.
”My family has just always supported me with whatever I’ve wanted to do,” Heuerman said. “I was actually the first person to play football in my family. I think it was the third grade. I’ve always looked at this game and played for myself. I’ve never played because I felt I had to. I’ve just played football because I love it. There’s no other reason.”
His star has shone a bit more brightly the last two months working out of Jackson’s spread passing attack. His lack of film became less of a problem after a seven-catch, 100-plus-yard performance, which didn’t include a 96-yard touchdown catch that was called back, in Barron’s spring game rout of Ida Baker.
“Now, I get a lot more space, and I’m open a lot more. There’s a lot more one-on-one matchups, which is great,” Matt said.
With his size and 4.69-second 40-yard dash speed, Matt figures to be a matchup problem each week as the Cougars look to rebound from a 3-7 season. Jackson said he’ll seek to find the perfect matchup for Matt by lining him up everywhere from the line to the slot to wideout.
The way Matt sees it, he plans on adding 15 pounds to show college coaches he can be a true tight end in addition to playing some H-Back.
In addition to camping at Wake Forest and Duke, he visited Appalachian State on a three-day trip to North Carolina last month. He plans to attend a few more camps with the hopes of making a verbal commitment at the end of the summer.
“There’s a lot coaches want to see from me,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to showing them what I can do.”
About The Big 15
Since July 3, The News-Press has published a profile on a standout football recruit every Tuesday and Friday. Players going into their junior and senior years were considered from both Lee and Collier County, with respect paid to those with hard scholarship offers and those without who possess great potential. The top 15 candidates were named and ranked, with the last story focusing on the very best recruit in Southwest Florida.