Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of the “Next Up” series, which profiles the signees from Florida’s 2016 class. SEC Country traveled around the South to visit the recruits before they reported to campus.
MOUNT DORA, Fla. — Bruce Heggie lost to the Gators in all four games during his playing career at Florida State.
He finally won last summer in Gainesville, Fla., but so did the University of Florida.
Heggie came to Florida’s Friday Night Lights with his son, Brett Heggie. The Under Armour All-American center committed to the Gators at the event, a moment that even made a Seminole smile.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic over his decision to come to UF and be part of their program,” Bruce Heggie said after his son’s commitment on July 24. “They have outstanding academics and athletics. Everything was a good fit for him here.”
Bruce Heggie played linebacker at FSU from 1983-1986 under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. But when it came time for his kids to pick a school, he didn’t steer them toward the Seminoles.
“My dad had no influence as to where I should go,” Brett Heggie said. “He told me to do what’s best for me. He wanted it to be my own decision, so he was extremely happy when I chose Florida.”
It’s not the first time one of Bruce Heggie’s kids has attended UF. His son Ben goes there now as a mechanical engineering student. His oldest child, Bruce Jr., played football at Notre Dame.
Bruce brought Brett to Florida State and Notre Dame games during his childhood. But had the Irish or Seminoles offered his youngest son, the family ties to those teams would’ve hurt them.
“As a little kid, I’d go to Doak (Campbell Stadium) and root for (the Seminoles),” Brett Heggie said. “Then I kind of lived that recruiting process with my brother and went to his games. But when I started getting offers at 15, I wanted to do my own thing.
“My brother went to Notre Dame and my dad went to Florida State, so I decided I wasn’t going to any one one of those teams. That was set in stone very early in my recruitment.”
Heggie fell in love with the coaches and environment at Florida, becoming the most solid member of the 2016 class. He was the first commitment to fax in his letter of intent on signing day.
By then, his father had fully switched sides in the rivalry.
“He played for FSU, but he’s all Gator now,” Heggie said. “I’m staying in the state, going to a top 10 university and playing in the SEC. My parents can come see me because it’s not a far drive, so everything worked out well for him.
“He has two out of his four kids going to Florida now. That’ll make you change to orange and blue.”
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow @ZachAbolverdi