JC tight end to walk on

Nolan Heyer will walk on to the Arizona Wildcats' football team. Read on to learn more about Heyer, the injury he's recovering from, and his visit to Tucson.

A week before the Orange Coast College football season started, sophomore Nolan Heyer was set to be the team's starting tight end. However, that wasn't how it turned out for the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder from Edison High School.

Heyer volunteered to work with the kickoff return team in the team's final scrimmage before the season opener. He planted his foot, bracing to make a block and his knee gave out, leaving him sidelined for the rest of the scrimmage.

A few days and some tests later, the sophomore got word that he had torn his ACL and that he would miss the remainder of the season.

"Before my x-ray, the doctor thought that I might have torn my MCL or PCL," Heyer said. "I was somewhat disappointed because those would mean I'd miss about five games. Then, a few days later, we went to the doctor and my dad told me that I was done for the year because I tore my ACL. I didn't see that coming and it was rough."

After the injury, Heyer sat on the sidelines cheering on his team, unsure of his future with football. However, there was one team that liked the previous work that the tight end had done and was willing to give him a chance.

"I don't have any scholarship offers because I tore my ACL," Heyer said. "Arizona is going to take me as a walk-on. I plan on enrolling pretty soon and being there for the spring semester.

"After I got hurt, I didn't know what I was going to do and I thought my career was done. I just happened to get noticed and I'm thankful that Arizona is going to give me a shot."

Heyer visited Tucson to watch the Wildcats host the Colorado Buffaloes. It was a day game for Arizona that turned into a record performance for Ka'Deem Carey. The visit stood out to the junior college transfer for other reasons as well, including the honoring of his brother, Kurt Heyer.

"It was great because I got to visit with my brother," Heyer said. "He was on the baseball team and got honored for the National Championship. It was a great experience and I love Arizona.

"I got to see the team and the atmosphere. There was a big crowd and it was a big game. We got to see Ka'Deem Carey have a huge game and it was really fun."

The sophomore talks to the Arizona coaches often and has already built a strong bond with one in particular.

"I talk to the coaches quite a bit," Heyer said. "I'd say I mostly communicate with Matt Dudek, the recruiting coordinator and he's an amazing person to talk to, but I talk to some other coaches too. I've had some talks with Coach Leftwich a few times and I got to meet and talk with Coach Rodriguez when I was there on campus."

Throughout the season, Heyer has been going through the rehabilitation process and has been keeping up with his current team. His rehab has been beneficial and the sophomore is already ahead of schedule in his time table.

"My rehab is going good," he said. "The doctors think that I'm ahead of schedule. My movement is coming back and I have almost a full range for moving. I'm walking freely without a limp and I'm improving in my workouts. My strength and muscles are getting stronger every day.

"I would imagine that I'll be back to full speed by the end of spring or early in the summer. If I can get in earlier, that would be a bonus, but I don't want to rush it."

Heyer is still unsure of how he will fit in at Arizona, but is taking things one step at a time and will focus on getting better before taking a look at his role within the system.

"Right now, the plan is just on me getting healthy first before getting introduced to the whole system," he said. "I want to get in the weight room and make sure I get back to the weight I want so I can be able to contribute.

"I haven't heard anything about changing positions, so I'm going into this with the feeling that I'm going to be a tight end. It could always change."

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