Shaka Heyward (Mill Creek/Hoschton, Ga.) is a rising-star outside linebacker, who has recently begun to generate power-five steam on the trail. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound hybrid, who most schools envision as a backer, started with lower Division I offers, but has recently added his first SEC and Big Ten looks.
Ole Miss came in back in February, and March 20 Maryland’s staff anted up.
“I had the Ole Miss offer, but I was real excited for the Maryland offer,” said Heyward, who has other offers from programs like Georgia State, Arkansas State and Southern Miss. “The one coach from Maryland, Coach [Walt] Bell, had been following me on Twitter for a little while, and we’ve had talks on and off. Then we were direct messaging [March 20], and he said the coaches liked my film and wanted to offer me. He said they really like my size and versatility. I was thankful for the offer. It’s my first from the Big Ten.”
Soon after receiving the UMD verbal, Heyward heard from Maryland linebackers coach Matt Barnes. It’s like both Bell and Barnes will be in touch with the Mill Creek product moving forward.
“So far all I know about Maryland is it’s a good academic school and it’s an up-and-coming program in the Big Ten,” Heyward said. “Coach Bell told me it’s a real nice environment there too. So I’m trying to work out a time when I can get up there with my parents.”
Heyward has already been to Georgia State, South Carolina and Duke. He’s hitting Ole Miss April 8 and is in the process of finalizing a trip to Georgia.
“So far all of the schools I’ve been to have stood out, and all the offers I have stand out,” Heyward said. “I’m not putting one school above another yet. I would say it would be nice to get the Duke offer since it’s great academics and good football, but, beyond that, I’m not really searching for anything. We’ll see what all comes in though.”
The Georgian has been hearing from coaches from Duke, UGA, South Carolina, UNC and Navy. He’s unsure which of those will follow through with offers, however.
“My thought is to see as many schools that do offer me as possible,” said Heyward, who said factors such as environment, player-coach relationships and academics will be at the forefront of his mind when he evaluates his options. “Then I’d like to commit sometime in the summer so I can focus on my senior season.”