Heyward Has High Hopes For 2010

Big honors are already rolling in for Cameron Heyward, but perhaps more important to the senior Ohio State defensive lineman is a challenge from head coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeye coach compared Heyward's production in the past to some of college football's best trench players, leaving Heyward inspired for a big year.

Cameron Heyward is already a preseason Playboy All-American and a member of the watch list for the Lombardi and Lott awards. Other individual preseason honors are sure to come as the 2010 season nears for the Ohio State defensive lineman.

But for Heyward, the real key is ending up on those lists at the end of the season – and winning games along the way.

"The main thing is just getting a national championship and a Big Ten championship, but I wouldn't be mad if I picked up a couple of individual awards," he said before breaking into a laugh. "(The titles) are the two main goals, (and) get my degree and education, but if those awards come around, since the bull's-eye is on my back, you have to live up to the reputation."

Buckeye fans would expect nothing less from Heyward, who discussed the upcoming summer and season with reporters Wednesday, one day after the Playboy honor came down.

A year ago, Heyward led the Buckeyes with 6.5 sacks while making 46 total stops, including 10 for loss. He also posted two hurries and recovered a fumble while playing on a defense that allowed only 12.5 points per game including holding high-powered Oregon to 17 in a Rose Bowl victory.

Those numbers helped him earn second-team All-Big Ten honors, but the goals are higher going into his final campaign. Heyward was asked if he wanted to be the next Ndamukong Suh, the dominating Nebraska defensive tackle who swept numerous postseason awards and went second in the NFL draft, and admitted his sights are even higher.

"I want to be better," Heyward said. "He's a great player and (Oklahoma's) Gerald McCoy was too. But the main thing I want to do is dominate. Looking back, they dominated games. I think if I do what's right, just keep working hard, I can be at that level. The main thing is I just have to take care of my work. You don't want to be just as good as someone, you want to be better. I think that's a big challenge but I'm up for it."

To help Heyward along, OSU head coach Jim Tressel provided him with some interesting information during the offseason. Tressel compiled the numbers of such players as Suh, McCoy, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, TCU's Jerry Hughes and Michigan's Brandon Graham and showed Heyward that those linemen were on the field for an average of about 90 percent of snaps, while Heyward played 60 percent of the time last year.

Defensive line coach and coordinator Jim Heacock is known for rotating players along the line, but the hope is for Heyward – who can play both tackle and end and did so in a standout performance against Oregon – to play a significantly higher percentage of snaps this year without his impact decreasing.

"Me and Coach Heacock sat down and (he) basically said, ‘I don't plan on you coming out any time soon,' " Heyward said. "I took that as a challenge. It's going to make me get in better condition. I can't take plays off. Sometimes when you're playing 90 percent of the plays you're not making the same production, and I don't want to have a fall off."

Now in his senior year, the Suwanee, Ga., native is expected to be among those vying for a captainship, and he's been brought out to speak the media more often as his career has unfolded. While the mild-mannered Heyward said he doesn't consider himself a team spokesman, he is dealing with an increased responsibility on the squad this season.

"I wouldn't say I'm preparing myself to be the face of the team," he said. "I try to be a vocal leader sometimes – a lot more."

In that regard, he said he'd have a simple message for team members.

"I think the main thing I'm going to praise is hard work," Heyward said. "I might not embrace the light, but I'm not going to shy away from it. I'm just going to try to lead my team right and do the right thing. I'm not going to do anything stupid to ruin it. I'm just going to uphold anything I can."

That will start this summer as the team – predicted to be among the top five in the nation by almost all prognosticators – goes through workouts. The coaching staff cannot be present to instruct or lead during the summer months, leaving team members to take control of the squad.

"The main thing we want to get out of the summer is steering the younger guys in the right direction," Heyward said. "We have a lot of guys that are a little immature and we have to bring them up to the curve and get them ready for the season. If we can get those guys up to speed and get our older guys to the right level, we're going to have a pretty good season."

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