Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward aspires to be a top-5 draft pick.

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by cowboyjoe, May 5, 2010.

  1. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Heyward Driven to Be the Best
    By Brandon Castel
    COLUMBUS — Cam Heyward had seen it before.

    As the son of a former professional football player, watching the NFL draft was nothing new for the Ohio State defensive lineman. But there was something different about it this time, and not just because he was waiting to hear the names of a few of his closest friends and former teammates.

    Cameron Heyward has the potential to terrorize quarterbacks next season.
    Photo by Dan Harker
    Heyward watched as Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was selected by the Detroit Lions with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft. One pick later the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their first round draft pick to select Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Under different circumstances Heyward might have been waiting to hear his own name.

    He likely would not have had long to wait.

    A 6-foot-6 junior out of Suwanee, Ga., Heyward earned second-team All-Big Ten honors a year ago while anchoring one of the best defensive lines in all of college football. He was projected as a mid-first round pick by most draft scouting services, but that simply wasn’t good enough.

    “I want to be the best,” said Heyward, who opted to return to Ohio State for his senior season rather than enter the draft.

    “I want to be the most dominant to ever play. Me and Coach (Jim) Heacock talked about that before the beginning of the season. The main thing is that I’m not there right now, but I want to be there by the start of the season. It’s just going to be a growing process.”

    He is coming off a junior season in which he finished first on the team with 6.5 sacks, second with 10 tackles for loss and sixth with 46 tackles overall. With Heyward wreaking havoc on the defensive line, the Buckeyes finished No. 7 in the country in run defense and No. 5 in total defense. They completely shut down a high-powered Oregon offense, holding a team that averaged over 40 points a game during the regular season to just 17 in the Rose Bowl. They finished the year 11-2 with their first bowl win in four years, but even it still wasn’t enough for Heyward, who came to Ohio State with a purpose back in 2007.

    “I’m definitely happy with what I’ve done so far, but I’m not satisfied,” said the son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward.

    “I still want a national championship. I think everybody on this team does. We’ve been there two times before, but there’s still a lot to accomplish on this team.”

    One of the things Heyward would like to accomplish, and one of the big reasons he chose to come back for his senior season in Columbus, is the opportunity to serve as a captain for Head Coach Jim Tressel this fall.

    “I want to be (a captain). It’s definitely one of my goals. I would love to be a captain for this team, but if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t,” said Heyward, who is one of two returning starters for the Buckeyes on the defensive line.

    “We have a lot of guys with good leadership on this team. We’ve got Ross (Homan) and Brian Rolle, and on the offensive side you’ve got guys like Terrelle (Pryor), DeVier (Posey), Dane (Sanzenbacher), B-Saine.”

    With nine starters back on offense, including Pryor, a lot of the leadership would appear to be on that side of the ball. That’s a large contrast from last season, when the Buckeyes had four seniors on the defensive line alone. With guys like Lawrence Wilson, Todd Denlinger and Rob Rose coming off the bench, defensive coordinator Jim Heacock had one of his deepest and most experienced groups up front. Losing those four, along with Thad Gibson and Doug Worthington, both of whom were selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, a lot will be on Heyward to become the leader of group this season.

    “Cam is a great player and he's one of those guys that will just run in and demolish people all the time. That's what he's really good at, just coming in and playing hard, but I think this year he's really taken on the leadership role,” nose tackle Dexter Larimore said.

    “He and I being the seniors and stuff, really taking on the leadership and kind of coaching up the young guys, the young defensive ends and stuff, and taking hold of the leadership roles on this team.”

    For Heyward, that means stepping out of his comfort zone. An intense competitor with a quick smile, Heyward seems to attract his teammates like no one else on the roster. They swarm to be around him during warm-ups and play off him once the whistle is blown, but every day in practice is where he will be asked to replace the leadership Worthingon, Gibson and Wilson brought to last year’s defensive line.

    “Doug was our big vocal guy last year. I tried to do a little bit of that, but not as much,” said Heyward, whose voice isn’t quite as booming as Worthington’s.

    “I think I do a good job of just playing hard and setting a good example, but sometimes you’ve got to be more vocal.”

    His ultimate goal is to be the next Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, a devastating disruptor coveted by teams at the next level. In order to get there, however, Heyward knows it’s all about pushing the Buckeyes as far as they can go.

    “I think it’s both,” Heyward said.

    “You don’t want to let anyone relax on this team because you don’t want to be complacent. But at the same time, I want to make myself better. But the only way I can get better is if I push myself, so I just want to do everything for the betterment the team.”

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