Somebody had to remind Mike White that two of the best players on his defense at Benedict College played together in high school.
It wasn’t clear at first since Joshua Heyward and Micah Levine, two West Ashley products, are polar opposites on the football field.
“Joshua doesn’t talk much at all and Levine is very loud,” White, Benedict’s head coach, said with a laugh.
But the two freshmen from Charleston do have something in common — they’re both leaders for the Tigers.
“Joshua is such a great defender and he’s gonna give teams some problems,” White said. “And we didn’t expect to play Micah this early into his career, but he worked himself into the starting lineup.”
Levine said when he leaps off the line of scrimmage to chase down a running back or pounce on the quarterback, he’s at peace in the midst of the chaos.
The 6-3, 220-pound lineman knows if the ball travels downfield, Heyward will make a play from his cornerback position.
“Knowing my brother is back there and just having confidence in his abilities, it helps me and the rest of the guys do our jobs better,” he said.
The Tigers are having a rough season, sitting at 0-5 with an 0-3 record in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. But Levine and Heyward have served as two of the brighter spots on the roster.
Heyward, a 6-2, 195-pound Johns Island native, ranks ninth in the league in defended passes, and first on the Tigers in pass breakups. Levine is top 3 on the team in sacks, forced fumbles and tackles for loss.
“They’re both big guys and extremely talented,” said William Wineberg, the duo’s former coach at West Ashley. “They just have incredible work ethic.”
The two met a couple of years ago when Levine transferred to West Ashley from James Island. By his own admission, he was struggling with disciplinary issues and viewed West Ashley as a change of scenery.
It worked. Levine prospered at West Ashley, which led to Benedict College giving him a call.
“It was a big learning curve for Micah,” Wineberg said. “The talent was always there but we had to show him that he was meant to be a leader. Seeing them now, I think it just shows the kind of program we have here at West Ashley."
That maturation included forming a friendship with Heyward in high school. They remain close friends, hanging out together between classes and after practices, and carpooling back to the Lowcountry from Columbia.
“We always like to say that we’re just some kids from Charleston,” Levine said. “It kind of gives us that edge. And as freshman, you need that in order to compete against juniors and seniors.”
That philosophy has boded well so far. And they’ll need it to reach their ultimate goal.
“We’re trying to become All-Americans, honestly,” Levine said.