As Cameron Heyward was putting the finishing touches on his senior football season at Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge, he was prepping for his final prep basketball season as well. The Ohio State coaching staff came down and watched one of his basketball games, with defensive coordinator Jim Heacock remarking that one of the things that really sold them on Heyward was his skill on the hardwood.
"Anybody that can play two sports, if they can do it, more power to him," Heacock said on National Signing Day. "We're real supportive of that. We know it's real hard to do, but he is a good basketball player and if he can do it, that's great."
Throughout the recruiting process, Heyward was resolute: He would attempt to play both sports in college, a fact both OSU men's basketball coach Thad Matta and head football coach Jim Tressel fully supported. In Heyward's bio in the football team's 2007 media guide, it says he plans to continue his basketball career in college.
But after being forced into a starting role as a true freshman, the wear and tear on Heyward might be starting to add up. After the Buckeyes' 38-17 victory against Wisconsin on Nov. 3, the 6-6, 282-pound defensive end was asked how his body was holding up during the rigors of a full season of college football.
"It's actually going pretty good," he said. "I don't have any major injuries, but I just don't want my body to be worn out by basketball. I'm going to see how it feels."
The last time he had touched a basketball, he was, was a week ago when he was "just messing around."
"It's a toss-up right now, fifty-fifty," he said. "I'm still looking at everything."
As a junior, Heyward averaged 12.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.6 blocks and 2.1 steals per game while leading his team to the state tournament for the first time in school history. As a senior, he averaged 10.7 points and 7.7 boards during his team's regular season.
Through 10 games, Heyward ranks 11th on the team with 21 tackles. He has 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Going forward, the plan for Heyward is to sit down with the two respective coaching staffs once the football season is over and then go from there.
Matta said he had spoken to Heyward within the past week.
"I saw him one night at training table and we talked for a little while," he said. "They've got a lot of football left ahead of them and I will say this: I like his intensity, I like his toughness. I don't know if we've got a uniform big enough for him. My gosh, is he a horse."
Although Heyward said the regular season has been more physical than he anticipated, Matta said there is both a time and a place for when they will discuss his future on the hardwood.
"I think when their season ends and he's able to come up for a deep breath, he and Coach Tressel can sit down and talk about things. I think then at that point I'll intervene. I'm not going to try to interfere with what they've got going on right now because I like it.
"I'm cheering like crazy for him."