On January 30, former offensive line coach Terry Heffernan announced via Twitter that he would be leaving EKU and accepting a position with the Buffalo Bills. Now in Buffalo, Heffernan is gearing up for his second coaching job at the pro level.
Heffernan is a familiar face to the NFL. He spent three seasons with the Detroit Lions as the assistant offensive line coach in 2013, the offensive quality control coach in 2014 and was back as the assistant offensive line coach in 2015.
Heffernan joined the Bills organization in January and said he believes it is a great opportunity for him and his family.
“I have some guys that I’ve worked with on staff here, so that was an exciting opportunity to work with those guys again,” Heffernan said.
One of those guys is Bobby Johnson, who worked alongside Heffernan while they were on the Lions staff.
“Bobby is a fantastic coach… I’m very excited to be here to help him,” Heffernan said.
Heffernan coached for three seasons at Eastern and said having coaching experience at both the collegiate and professional levels has helped him in many ways.
“It develops you as a teacher a lot,” Heffernan said. “Having those skills, being able to go ‘what are the most fundamental things that we need to teach’—that’s really important.”
At EKU, Heffernan was named the associate head coach in April 2017. Heffernan also helped the Colonels to a 7-4 record and a third place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2018. EKU rushed for 2,246 yards in 2018, 1,105 yards more than in 2017.
“I take a ton of pride in the turnaround that I was apart of,” Heffernan said. “I’ll be honest with you, I think there were a lot of challenges when we got there our first year and it really started to show its promise this year, especially at the end of the season with a four-game winning streak.”
Heffernan said “the best is still to come” when talking about the EKU football program.
“I had the opportunity to leave multiple times in my couple years and so did a lot of the coaches… others teams are seeking those people and no one is leaving the program disgruntled. No one is leaving the program for a lateral move; these are all positions that can benefit the guys’ families so it's a huge testament to the program that coach (Mark) Elder has built,” Heffernan said.
One memory from EKU that Heffernan will keep with him forever, he said, is their win over Austin Peay in his final season with the Colonels.
“It was really a gut-checking, on-the-road, tough battle, but also with Parker McKinney going in as a true freshman and practicing with varsity for a week and leading the drive for the game winning touchdown,” Heffernan said.
Preparing for his first season with the Bills, Heffernan is excited to get started.
“I know that the coaching staff and the organization as a whole is very committed to winning… this should be a very good playoff caliber team,” Heffernan said.