Wednesday, February 24, 2010
OSU's Heyward aims for total domination
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
Perhaps more than any other Ohio State player, Cameron Heyward rose to the occasion in 2009.
In two of the Buckeyes' biggest games -- against USC and Penn State -- Heyward looked like the best player on the field.
Cameron Heyward had some of his biggest moments against Ohio State's toughest opponents last season.
He manhandled USC's celebrated offensive line in a Sept. 12 contest, recording seven tackles, two for a loss and a sack, while playing both defensive line positions. Ohio State lost the game, but Heyward played brilliantly. Two months later at Penn State, Heyward once again had his way with an opposing offensive line, recording 11 tackles, including three for a loss and two sacks, en route to winning National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Big games in big moments put Heyward on the map in 2010. But when he steps on the field this fall, he doesn't plan to wait for the spotlight to shine his way.
"One thing I want to become is more consistent," Heyward said. "I can have some breakout games, but I want it to be every game. I want to dominate games from the get-go. Any defensive lineman can have a great performance, but if you can have a consistent base and build up a name for yourself and show you can be dominant against any offensive lineman, that’s one of the goals for me."
Fortunately for Ohio State, Heyward will aim for consistency at the college level. The 6-6, 287-pound lineman could have entered the NFL draft and never looked back, as he projects extremely well to the pro game.
Instead, he'll return to Columbus for his senior season as a bona fide national award candidate. While former teammates like Thaddeus Gibson, Doug Worthington and Kurt Coleman gear up for the NFL combine, Heyward is looking toward 2010.
"I wish them the best with everything, and I think they’re going to do big things in the future," Heyward said. "But I’m happy with my decision. Guys kind of tease me about it, but I think I made the right decision, and hopefully next year, I'm in that same position."
If Heyward builds on his 2009 performance, he'll be in an excellent position to make the jump.
Heyward leads a defensive line that loses three starters -- Gibson, Worthington and Todd Denlinger -- but gets Dexter Larimore back from injury and boasts some exciting young players in John Simon, Solomon Thomas and Nathan Williams. Heyward identified Melvin Fellows and Keith Wells as two players ready for bigger roles this spring.
"We learned a lot last year, and it can only help us to our advantage," he said. "We’re worried about getting the W's and hopefully getting the national championship. If it means us sacrificing whatever it takes, we’ll do it, because we’re all dedicated and all on the right path."