Cavalier Corner

April 2023

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26 CAVALIER CORNER BY JEFF WHITE C hange is part of college foot- ball, and six transfers have joined the University of Vir- ginia program since the end of last season, along with two first- years who graduated from high school in December. The Cavaliers also have two new as- sistant coaches in Adam Mims (wide receivers) and Terry Heffernan (offen- sive linemen). Heffernan held the same position at Stanford in 2021 and '22, and he hadn't set foot on Grounds before accepting the position on UVA head coach Tony Elliott's staff. "I want to run the football, but you've got to be balanced, especially in this league," Elliott said. "So, I think [Heffernan's experience is] a good mix all the way around, from the run game and from the passing game." Mims, a native of Birmingham, Ala., already knew his way around the McCue Center. He served as the Cavaliers' senior of- fensive analyst in 2022, working closely with wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, who left in December join the staff at Penn State. Elliott, who as a Furman assistant coached Mims as a wide receiver for three seasons, said he thought "long and hard" about his options after Hagans left. Not only did he feel comfortable with Mims, but Mims "also had a year to work alongside Marques as well," Elliott said, "and so he had relation- ships with the guys who were on the roster." Not long after Elliott promoted him, Mims texted Hagans, a cornerstone of the UVA pro- gram for years: first as a player under Al Groh and then as an assistant coach under Mike London, Bronco Mendenhall and, finally, Elliott. Mims said he thanked his predecessor for everything. "I told him, 'Man, I've got some big shoes to fill.'" Mims noted. "I'm gonna do my very best, that's for sure." COMMITTED TO THE RUN GAME Heffernan grew up in the Midwest. He lived in the Detroit area for about eight years as a boy, then moved to Chicago with his family when he was in the seventh grade. After grad- uating from high school, Heffernan attended the University of Dayton, where he majored in communications and played football. Heffernan, who replaced Garett Tujague at UVA, found himself in the job market when David Shaw stepped down in November after 12 seasons as Stanford's head coach. Heffernan didn't know anyone on the UVA coaching staff, but the school's academic reputation appealed to him. "It was certainly a transition for me at Stanford," Heffernan said, "figuring out what it was like to recruit that level of student-athlete and being able to kind of pick through the prospects and say, 'Hey, this kid's great at football, but he's not going to be a fit for us.' "And so those two years prepared me in a lot of regards for here, where you're recruiting a similar type of student-athlete." The breadth of Heffernan's coaching experience is striking. He started as a graduate assistant at Cumberland Uni- versity, an NAIA school in Tennessee, and later was a graduate assistant at Michigan and Louisville, two Power Five programs. Later, he was an assistant coach at Division II Wayne State in Detroit for six seasons. He's coached in the NFL, with the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills, and he was associate head coach and offensive line coach at Eastern Kentucky, an FCS program, for three seasons. "I've been at the highest level and had five years coaching in the NFL," Heffernan said, "so you get to see what can be done at the truly elite level with the greatest players in the world and the biggest budgets in the world. And then I've got a big chunk of my career where I'm vacuuming the office before an official visit, and that was just what you did. You wear a lot of hats when you're a Di- vision II coach or an NAIA coach, and that's been a big chunk of my career as well. "Being at some of the bigger places, I think it's really important not to lose that aspect of it. Being a college football coach at some point in my career meant cutting the grass on the practice field and doing the team's laundry. Even though those maybe aren't my responsibility here, I don't want to lose touch with that." ENERGIZED ENERGIZED AND READY AND READY New Position Coaches Terry Heffernan And Adam Mims Bring Experience, Continuity To The Offensive Line And Wide Receiver Groups Heffernan joins the UVA staff as offensive line coach, after holding the same position with Stanford for the past two seasons. (Photo by Jim Daves/courtesy UVA)

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