"Brandon Heaney is a real inspirational player for this defense," BYU head coach Gary Crowton said today. "He's a guy that inspires his teammates to play better and harder. Having played through his shoulder separation last season was a real inspiration to the team and he continues with that."
Heaney commented that "it was difficult because the separation occurred before the season even started. It was something that I had to deal with during two-a-days and it progressively got worse. Progressively, it just wore me down not only physically, but mentally as well."
And the pain was not limited to the field. "My shoulder got to the point where it would just pop out during my sleep or when doing simple tasks. It was at the point where it would pop out during everyday activities that Coach Crowton and I decided that I couldn't play on the field anymore."
Adds an admiring Coach Crowton: "This year he's healthy and I hesitate to say that because I don't want to bring bad luck to him, but he's just a good and hardworking kid. He's a kid that just does everything right and he's real athletic. He loves the game; he's fast and he's very talented. Having both him and Jernaro (Gilford) healthy is just tremendous for our defense."
Heaney also noted "the number No. 1 goal of every player on the team is to benefit the team as a whole as much as possible. I didn't feel that I was able to do that with my condition. I couldn't lend the run support the team needed and I couldn't be as physical in my coverages. So with two games left in the season, we decided that it would be best to just do the surgery and get it over with."
Humbled by Crowton's assessment of him as a player, Heaney said, "I don't know. I'm just playing up to my expectations and playing as hard as I possibly can. That is the way my father brought me up. To just play through it and suck it up."
It's just as well he's healthy because defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's defense "is a lot more physical for the ‘gunner' position. You have to be a lot more aggressive and offer much more run support, which I'll be able to do this season much more effectively. I feel completely comfortable supporting the run this season," Heaney said.
"The sky is the limit for this unit. We're experienced at every position and we're all working very hard. We're a lot healthier and I just think that the whole attitude of the defense is so much better. We really work well together and I stand by what I've predicted in the past regarding how good this defense will be."
One last time: "So your shoulder is 100% now?" Heaney responded, "I guess I'm 200% now that I can use both arms. Last season I was only able to use one, so I'll be that much better this year with the ability to use both of my arms."
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