Number 24: Cam Heyward

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Last updated: 07/25/2011 7:31 AM

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Football
25 Most Exciting: No. 24
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — He burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2007, but that was only beginning of something special for Cam Heyward.

Cam Heyward zeros in on Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Can Heyward

During his four years in Columbus, the dynamically versatile defensive lineman became more than just the son of late NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. He forged his own identity as one of the great linemen in school history.

For that, Heyward comes in at No. 24 on our list of the most exciting Buckeyes of the Jim Tressel era.

No. 24: DL Cameron Heyward

Not many expected Heyward to choose the Buckeyes over all the offers he received as a recruit back in 2007. The Georgia native from Peachtree Ridge High School visited LSU, Georgia and Florida in January before committing to the Buckeyes—and current OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell—in the days leading up to National Signing Day.

After the departures of Quinn Pitcock, Jay Richardson and David Patterson, Heyward forced his way into the starting lineup that fall just six games into his freshman season. Despite his inexperience, Heyward quickly became one of OSU’s top defensive players, helping them reach the BCS National Title fame for the second-straight season.

Cam Heyward celebrates his touchdown in the 2009 Michigan game.
Photo by Dan Harker

The versatile Heyward played inside and outside on the defensive line, although his primary position was defensive end. He finished his freshman season with 30 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks. He was named a freshman All-American by Sporting News, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

The following season, Heyward started all 13 games for the Buckeyes, rotating his big frame all across the defensive line. As a sophomore, Heyward was already a disruptive force who opposing offensive coordinators began to game plan against at an early age.

The 6-5, 295-pound lineman finished with 36 tackles, three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2008, but statistics have never told much of the story for Heyward. Despite the fact he looked more like a defensive tackle, Heyward was one of the few players on Ohio State’s defense who had the ability to completely take over a game all by himself.

He did that a number of times during his college career, but the three games that stand out above the rest are Wisconsin and Penn State from his junior year, and more recently the Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

Heyward had five tackles and a sack in Ohio State’s 31-13 win over Wisconsin in 2009. It was his domination of Gabe Carimi and the performance of the OSU defensive line as a whole that allowed the Buckeyes to overcome the fact they had only 184 yards of total offense.

Four weeks later, Heyward had the game of his career against Penn State. He finished with 11 tackles and two sacks as the Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 24-7 in Happy Valley, but even those stats didn’t accurately portray how unstoppable he was in that game.

With 46 tackles and 6.5 sacks, Heyward garnered all-Big Ten Conference second-team honors as a junior, but opted to return for his senior season. He had another productive year, but easily saved his best for last.

Officially Heyward had six tackles and a sack against Arkansas, but that doesn’t account for all the times he was held by DeMarcus Love and the Razorbacks offensive line, who took ever opportunity to grab, punch, twist and pound every part of Heyward’s body.

Maybe his most exciting play, however, happened in week two of the 2010 season when he returned a Jacory Harris interception 80 yards for a near touchdown in Ohio State’s 36-24 win over Miami (Fla.).

Having started 46 of his final 52 games at Ohio State—including 45 of 46 over the last three seasons—Heyward (15.0) is tied with A.J. Hawk for 11th place on the school’s all-time sack list. For that, he lands at No. 24 on our list of the most exciting Buckeyes of the last decade.

No. 25 Brian Robiskie

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