Monday, September 20, 2010

HEYWARD IS THE BEST DAMN DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN THE LAND

Photo of Cameron Heyward by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — I have come to learn two incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and Cameron Heyward is the best defensive player in the country.

The 6-foot-5, 288 pound senior defensive end has been devastating for the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes this season, manhandling opposing offensive lineman as if they were a piece of tissue paper trying to hold back a tsunami.

In just three games this season, Heyward has done just about everything you could ask him to do for the Buckeyes stingy defense, from intercepting a pass in the Miami game and rumbling for 80 yards, to recovering a fumble or dropping a tailback in his tracks for a safety during last week's beat down of Ohio.

"Cam's a great player," Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said. "He's hard to block. He's not a sometimes guy. You know, sometimes you turn it on and you look at people and say, oh, man, when that guy cranks it up, he's good. Well, Cam cranks it up every play. In practice, (defensive coordinator) Jim Heacock has to take him out at times so he doesn't disrupt the entire practice.

"But Cam's a great player," Tressel continued. "I mean, there can't be too many others any better than him at that position in the country."

I'll go ahead and say it — Heyward is the best player (at his position) in the country.

Heyward reminds me of a young Reggie White. He'll beat you with pure strength, he'll beat you with more intensity, he'll beat you with more heart, and most of all, he'll beat you by simply out working you.

"He gives 100 percent all the time," OSU senior star Tyler Moeller said of Heyward. "He's a great player and a hard worker. He's always ready to make plays."

When I see Heyward play or watch him on film or see him in practice, there's only one word that comes to mind — Unstoppable.

I just can't say the same for any other defensive player in the country. I watched Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn — the player everyone seems to look at as Heyward's rival — get dominated at times by Arizona left tackle Adam Grant last Saturday night. I watched him disappear during the loss to the Wildcats.

The only way Heyward disappears is if he's not on the field. And even then, he's still making some noise.

"After we messed up one of the last plays before halftime (against Ohio), he went into the locker room and got mad," OSU senior linebacker Ross Homan said of Heyward. "He told us that we better prepare for a big second half. He's just a confident player. That's the person he is."

Heyward is also one of those players who is never satisfied and always remains humble. Just ask him about his fumble recovery against Ohio last Saturday.

"I was just in the right place at the right time," Heyward said. "But the quarterback tackled me. That's not good enough."

Or ask him about the play against the Bobcats where he dumped OU tailback Vince Davidson in the end zone for a safety.

"I just shot the gap and it was just from a good play call," Heyward said. "I was just in the right place at the right time."

So, what have learned, boy and girls?

Heyward is big, he's strong, he's intense, he's a leader, he's confident, he's humble and he is always "in the right place at the right time."

And do you know what you get when you add all of those ingredients together?

You guessed it ... the best damn defensive player in the land.