The Louisville Ballard High School product started camp strong and seemed to flourish in Petrino's up-tempo practices. He always remained after practice working on his own, running strints or working on a new technique, something that he said became contagious as fall camp progressed.
"It feels good," he said of his rise onto the Cardinals two-deep roster. "I work extremely hard and I'll push the guys right next to me work hard too. That was the thing about me staying after on my own, it started out as just me, but then it started to grow where more and more freshmen stayed out there."
However, as word of Heyman's post-practice routine spread throughout the U of L football complex, defensive coordinator Mike Cassity made a change to the rookie's schedule.
"I heard one day - on one of the hottest days we had - that there was one guy out there working on his own and it was Earl," said Cassity. "We had to pull him off the field."
"They told me that I had to stop doing that," said the Scout.com prep All-American. "They want me to gain weight. After I ran 12 extra 100-yarders, they told that I couldn't keep doing that. They are trying to get me to gain weight and I kept running it off."
Heyman credit's his time spent after practice, as well as his attention to detail, for his rapid climb into the Cardinals defensive tackle rotation.
"I had to learn quick," Heyman explained. "They throw so much stuff at you, so you have to learn on the run. I got it down pretty much. I had to learn the whole defensive line and that's tough."
Mike Cassity, who is in his second year as the program's defensive coordinator, agreed that the freshman's internal drive is a key reason that he could see time on the field against the in-state rival Wildcats.
"Earl plays with what we call a high-motor," said Cassity. "He's a full-speed guy all the way. He's very into practice and he asks good questions."
With the possibility of his first collegiate action occurring on Sunday at Kentucky, the self-described ‘life-long Cardinal fan,' is looking forward to just walking onto the turf at Commonwealth Stadium.
"I didn't think it would be this exciting," Heyman explained. "You always hear all the hype about the UofL - UK, but I didn't think it would be like this. I can't wait to walk out there. I'm going to want to get after anything in blue. It's going to be fun. I just get this drive inside me that makes me really want to go."