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Former Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward already had a name made for him by the time he was born, but he’s looking to establish his own identity once he hits the NFL.
The son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, an 11-year pro who played with five different teams, is close to carving out a singular niche.
“Ironhead” was known as a hard-nosed running back during his tenure in the league, but unfortunately lost a seven-year battle to a recurring brain tumor in 2006.
As he readies himself for the upcoming NFL Draft, Cameron Heyward understands – and even welcomes – the pressure of his father’s legacy.
“I hope I have pressure,” the affable Heyward said from the NFL Scouting Combine. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. If guys are expecting a lot out of me, so be it, because I’m a guy that’s going to produce and give all I got.”
The Ravens could use a guy like Heyward to bolster their pass rush, and he’s been placed in Baltimore in ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s most-recent mock draft at the No. 26 position.
Heyward started all four years in Columbus, Ohio, making 45 career starts. The sturdy 6-foot-5, 288-pounder made 34 tackles for loss and notched 14 ½ sacks during that span.
Playing in four-consecutive BCS bowl games, Heyward also possesses the versatility to play tackle and end in a 4-3 scheme and straight end in a 3-4. While the Ravens run a base 3-4, they have elements of multiple other defenses.
“I’m not just going to be set in one thing,” Heyward said of his varied talents. “I’m able to help a lot more, and there are a lot of teams that do both. It’s only going to help me.”
And, Heyward displays a toughness that would make dad proud.
He only registered 3 ½ sacks last season as a senior, but he was at his best in the Buckeyes’ finale.
Largely lining up against vaunted Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love in the Sugar Bowl, Heyward posted 3 ½ tackles for loss, a half sack and one pass deflection in OSU’s 31-26 victory.
And, Heyward did this all after tearing ligaments in his elbow in the second quarter, an injury that precluded him from working out at the combine. Heyward’s pro day is March 30.
“I’m a guy with a very high motor, and I’m going to give you all I got,” Heyward said of his senior-season production. “You’ll see all my pass-rush moves. I might not have gotten there every time, but I’m going to continue to work on my pass rush and continue to get better.”
As Heyward makes his way up the ranks – most pundits have him getting drafted in the first round – he is enjoying the questions about “Ironhead” and the inevitable comparisons to his late-father.
But there are a lot of differences between the collegiate defensive lineman and the longtime New Orleans Saint.
Cameron Heyward seems to accept the reality of his familial situation while striving to move past it.
“I don’t want to live in his shadow,” said Heyward. “He was a great player and he’s always in my heart. I appreciate everything he’s done, but I want to do everything on my own.
“I’m not asking anybody to give me a second look or anything just because my dad was ‘Ironhead.’”