Coming Home?

If the initial decision to go to UNO versus walking on at UNL was a hard one, imagine how good it must feel for a young man to come home, so to speak. For Steve Heiman, there's a bit of that, at least in how he feels. And he's going to do something he always wanted to do, but now he thinks he's got a legit chance to do: Take his shot under center for the big red.

Rewind the clock a bit, Papillion-LaVista senior Steve Heiman goes to a summer quarterback academy hoping to get an offer from Nebraska.

Heiman showed pretty well, but ultimately, he didn't. 

Move forward a little bit and you get into the season that was, for Heiman and maybe the entire Monarch team, one they'd just soon forget. There was a lot of hope going into the 2006 campaign, because Heiman was a transfer even back then, heading to Papillion-LaVista via Omaha Gross, where Heiman threw for approximately 4,000 of his over 5.000 career yards as a high school player. 

That didn't work out quite the way it was envisioned. 

Neither did the recruiting process, Heiman living the dream as all young kids are wont to do inside the Husker-state, longing to be what else…a Husker. 

However, there was a pride factor there, Heiman thinking that no, his final prep season didn't go like he wanted, but between just the communication process with some of the old staff, and how doors might not necessarily have been as open as they are today, Steve opted for another road. 

60 miles east to be exact, another University of Nebraska offering him a full ride, and I doubt many if any, would discount the importance and even privilege of being able to say you are a scholarship athlete at all. 

There's still that dream, though, burning at you, bugging you and in the back of your mind, no matter how much you might be learning at the University of Nebraska in Omaha or what you see for the future, there's still that darn question you can't get out of your head: 

What if 

That's a Pandora's Box, isn't it? How many of us can't say that about some thing or event during our life? 

Heiman was already saying it, but the difference between thinking it and acting upon it, had to do more with a change 60 miles west than it had to do with a change he made inside himself. "I saw the press conference with coach Pelini, and he just seemed like a straightforward guy, a no-nonsense guy and since he's been there, it seems to be that a lot of new doors are opening," Heiman said. "There was always this part of me that wanted to go there and just show them what I could do, but I think now I'd get a real chance. 

"And really, if you know you are going to get a real chance, you can't keep yourself from doing something like this. I don't want to always look back on this time and wonder if I could have done it. I want to just do it and see what happens." 

Heiman has gotten a lot of time to see things as he opted for the redshirt his freshman season with the Mavericks. He watched incumbent starter, junior Zach Miller, ironically a transfer himself, but his stretch went the other way, Miller heading from Lincoln to Omaha in 2004. Miller completed over 60 percent of his passes, throwing for over 1,500 yards and rushing for over 800 as UNO went 7-1 in conference-play and 8-3 overall. 

Heiman said of learning a higher level of play that season and what it all entailed, it was hard for him to grasp everything, because a redshirt freshman can only learn so much. But Miller's presence and performance gave him an insight into what he thinks not just he needed to work on, but what he believed is a staple to the success of any QB, and at any level. 

"Zach could control the tempo of a game really well, and that's one thing I have learned – running that offense is just as much about controlling tempo as it is about running the plays," Heiman said. "The quarterback has control of the game and it's up to you how fast or slow it goes. And if you are good at it like Zach was, it can make for a long day for the other team." 

Steve might have been living and playing in Omaha , but there was always an eye toward the big-brother institution to the west. Perhaps that unthinkable question kept burning inside him. But more realistically, Heiman was just a fan. 

That's how it is in Nebraska , when you grow up here and start to realize that as much as corn is an important part of its economy, the Huskers are part of its culture. 

Unlike most of us, though, who watch the game for what it is, Heiman watched Nebraska , and marveled at the offense, thinking to himself of what it would be like if it was him who was out there instead. 

That's a big dream. Thousands of young men have it, I am sure, living, eating and breathing the Huskers since the day they knew what a football was. Many dream it, few realize it, but there are a number who have given it at least a shot, just to see if they could actually experience something they could barely imagine was real - even while they stood in the stands, yelling and screaming from the time the team ran out onto the field. 

It was time Heiman did the same thing. 

"I'm going to do it, because I have to, and it has always been my dream. And with all the change that was going on, I figured there was no excuse for me not to give it a try," he said. "I don't want to think to myself when I get older, about what I might have missed, what I could have done or what it would have felt like to run out onto that field even once. 

"But I will tell you one thing – I'm not going there to sit on the bench." 

You hear about it often, a walk-on making good, living the dream and in rare cases like that of the Makovicka-family, actually going on to play in the NFL. 

But not at quarterback. Nobody walks on and achieves that dream playing arguably the most important position on the field. It isn't just a dream, some would consider it a fantasy. 

And I don't see Mr. Roark in North Stadium 

That's the beauty of it in Steve's mind, and when you listen to his voice; sharp, energetic and even enthusiastic, you know that he believes it to be true. He believes it for two reasons, one which he always believed, even before he was seriously considering college and the second, perhaps it was in Mr. no-nonsense himself. 

"He's great. I haven't met him and I still think he's going to be great for Nebraska ," Heiman said of Bo Pelini. "He's just what this program needs. He's the kind of person that will be honest with you, and he'll shape young men into quality players and quality people. 

"That's what you need in a head coach and that's why I would be really excited to play for him." 

Steve hasn't actually talked to a coach. You might find that a bit odd, as most of the time, we hear about this entire process taking place before this young man decides to transfer or even something simple as walk on. That's probably the part about this little story, which make it all that much more interesting. 

Heiman honestly doesn't care 

He sees the offensive system and yeah, that's a lot to get excited about. He was as happy as probably anyone else in the state, when he got to see then junior Joe Ganz "blow the top off" the offense, as Heiman stated, racking up yards and points like they was going out of style. He's heard an awful lot of good things about quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson as well. 

That's not it though. That's not the story, because that doesn't explain why Heiman is going to do something he's always wanted to do, but for that brief period of time, and unfortunately, the worst time of his high school period, it just didn't feel like a good situation. 

It feels pretty darn good right now. 

If you were to listen to Heiman, the energy in his voice might get you wanting to go out there yourself, throw it around a bit, remember the good old days, or if you didn't have any, give you the enthusiasm to make some up. Is it his comeback party? No, of course not. He didn't go to Nebraska in the first place. But for Heiman, Lincoln wasn't his hometown and it certainly wasn't where he grew up. But he does feel that in a way, no matter how this journey ends, this coming back to his roots, of sorts, has him grinning from ear-to-ear. 

"I don't care how it turns out. That's not the point. You have dreams of how you like things to happen, but what matters more than all of that is that you tried," Heiman said. "This is about doing something I wanted to do, but it never felt as right as it does now.

"I honestly don't care what happens, because I will give everything I have, try as hard to start if I can and I'll be proud of whatever happens next. This almost feels like a bit like coming out from under the woodwork, for me, but I'm not wasting any chance I get. 

"I'm going to show them what I can do."


Big Red Report Top Stories