Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BUCKEYES' STAR HEYWARD LETS HIS PLAY DO ALL THE TALKING

Photo of Cameron Heyward by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — Cameron Heyward doesn't like to talk much, but his game on the other hand screams out "superstar."

"Yeah, I hate talking," Heyward laughed. "I don't really like answering all these questions,

"I just love playing football."

And the 6-6, 287-pound junior does what he loves, oh, so well.

Heyward has been a force this season for the Buckeyes' defense, recording 36 tackles — with seven and a half for losses — and a team-leading five sacks.

Last Saturday at No. 11 Penn State, Heyward was a beast from the very start, sacking Nittany Lions' quarterback Darryl Clark on PSU's first play of the game. Heyward didn't let up one bit after the big start, eventually finishing the game with a team-high 11 tackles and two sacks, in the Buckeyes' 24-7 victory at Happy Valley.

With a win against No. 10 Iowa this Saturday in Columbus, Heyward's Buckeyes will be heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time under Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel.

Of course, Heyward doesn't want to "talk" about the Buckeyes' pending trip to Pasadena.

"Not at all," Heyward said, before breaking into a huge smile. "If we focus on the Rose Bowl, Iowa is going to come in here and beat us up."

All he would say about the Rose Bowl is that the Buckeyes would be taking it "one game at a time." In fact, he said it at least two dozen times on Tuesday afternoon.

What Heyward did talk about, though, was his girlfriend, his future in football, and his first love — basketball.

Before wreaking havok on Big Ten quarterbacks, Heyward — son of the late NFL first round running back, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward — dreamed of hooping it up for Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils. He, along with OSU quarterback, Terrelle Pryor — who dreamt of playing at Duke's arch-rival North Carolina — still reminisce about what could have been on the hardwood.

"Me and Terrelle always talk about that a bunch — why we didn't play basketball," Heyward said. "But, I think we're enjoying football too much. I thought I was going to go to Duke. So, me and Terrelle would've been playing against each other.

"I think I benefitted a lot from basketball," Heyward continued. "It helped me out a lot in football, just staying athletic. I used to be a high-flyer back in my day. I don't know if I can still do that anymore."

What he can still do, though, is play football. So well in fact, that his NFL draft stock is soaring right now.

Asked if he has noticed any NFL scouts at Ohio State's practice facility this season, Heyward quickly joked ... "No, Coach (Jim) Heacock is too busy yelling at me."

"No, I remember during my freshman year, scouts would be in here watching James (Laurinaitis) and Malcolm (Jenkins)," Heyward continued. "I got to observe what they did to get to that position. Hopefully one day I can be in that position, as well."

However, Heyward hinted that that day will not come at the end of the 2009 season.

Tressel — who Heyward said his mother "fell in love with" when the Buckeyes coach was recruited him out of high school in 2006 — stated that his junior defensive lineman is a one of those "special" players.

"Cam loves to prepare," Tressel said. "Cam's over there in the building all the time. It seems you can't walk by the locker room or one of the film rooms and not see Cam sitting there with a bag of groceries watching film.

"He's very talented. The more he has learned about the game, obviously the more effective he is. He's going to be a very, very good player. He's a special one."

Heyward said he does, in fact, spend a lot of time studying film and preparing at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. So much so, that his girlfriend — Ohio State junior volleyball player, Allie Schwarzwalder — gives him a hard time about it.

"We're both in-season right now, we try to attend each other's games a lot," Heyward said. "But, she gets mad at me sometimes because I sneak into 'the Woody' for a little extra film and she's like 'where are you going? It's so late.' But, she knows my schedule and I know hers and we both benefit from it."

Whether it's pummeling opposing quarterbacks, studying film or keeping his girlfriend happy, Heyward doesn't seem to have any problems in his life at the current time.

Well, except ... "I'm having trouble in public speaking right now," Heyward laughed, as he was surrounded by a mass of reporters Tuesday at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus.

However, contrary to his analysis, Heyward is quite an excellent speaker, with a beaming personality, who seems like a real pleasure to be around.

Well ... if you're not an opposing quarterback, that is.