When out on the practice field, many coaches and players will address each other by shouting last names, calling out jersey numbers or simply yell until they get a response.
However, former Jacksonville State cornerback T.J. Heath, who is among those selected to the All-JSU FCS team by The Chanticleer readers and staff, went by a different name when around his teammates.
“My name was Skinny P,” Heath said. “When I got there, everyone said I was cool but I was so skinny. They called me Skinny P, or Skinny Pimp.”
Many, if not all, players who came through JSU received a nickname. Former JSU cornerback A.J. Davis, who played alongside Heath, went by A.J. “The Jet” Davis because of how fast he was.
Even though Heath is over ten years removed from his last time putting on a JSU jersey, he’ll still hear his nickname chanted by his former teammates.
“We used to always give nicknames to guys and that’s still part of the family-oriented thing that keeps going on,” Heath said. “Even when guys still see me, they still call me 'Skinny P,’ which is funny.”
While many players enjoyed the camaraderie among each other, former Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe was a huge supporter of players spending time with each other and creating team chemistry.
Crowe encouraged players to spend as much time with each other as possible to not just build chemistry, but for the team to become a family.
“(Crowe) pushed strongly for us to always be around each other, always hang with each other and always care for each other,” Heath said. “I think that has stuck in the ‘Cockpit’ for a long time now, just building that family.”
After his career at Jacksonville State, Heath was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2011 NFL Draft. His professional career included two Canadian Football League All-Star selections.
Heath said that a reason for his success playing professional football started with the level of talent from the players that Jack Crowe brought in.
“He would bring in guys like Ryan Perrilloux as our quarterback that I had to compete with,” Heath said. “We would have a lot of different guys that came from a lot of different schools who could really play. I think that being from a small town and not seeing a lot of competition in games, I think having that aspect in practice made me a lot better as a player.”
As Heath learned that he was named starting cornerback alongside Siran Neal, he said that Neal was one of the players that he helped train as Heath got his start in the NFL.
Heath said that after training Neal, it was a special moment to hear that their names would be together on the team.
“That was pretty cool,” Heath said. “I was like ‘dang, I’m on the list and I’ve got another guy that I helped on his journey and he’s on the list,’ I thought that was pretty cool to share that moment with Siran because I trained him. I thought that was a special moment.”