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Monday, February 28, 2011
Big Ten rankings: No. 16, Cameron Heyward

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The 2010 Big Ten postseason player rankings continue with ...

No. 16: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State, Sr., 6-5, 288

Ohio State Buckeye defensive end Cameron Heyward
Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward came through at big times for the Buckeyes.
2010 numbers: Started all 13 games at defensive end; recorded 48 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks; had an interception and a fumble recovery; earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media.

Preseason rank: No. 3 in preseason Top 25 players

Why he's here: These rankings are primarily about impact, and while Heyward might not have been as consistently dominant as some of us projected him to be, he impacted big games at critical times. From an 80-yard interception return against Miami to a safety against Ohio to a huge sack of Ricky Stanzi against Iowa to a career performance in the Sugar Bowl, Heyward stepped up when his team needed him most. The co-captain anchored a strong Ohio State defensive front as the Buckeyes won a share of their sixth consecutive Big Ten title and their second consecutive BCS bowl. He earned the team's Defensive Attack Force Player of the Week award three times and had three or more tackles in eight games.

As mentioned at the start of the rankings, bowl performance plays a significant factor, and arguably no Big Ten player had a bigger role in a bowl game than Heyward. He recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack , two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup, and forced at least one Arkansas holding penalty in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win. More impressive was the fact Heyward delivered his MVP-worthy performance with an elbow injury that later required surgery.