Standout Ohio State defensive end and highly touted NFL draft prospect Cameron Heyward spent time earlier this week working with scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) at a sports science lab constructed in the Super Bowl XLV Media Center in Dallas. Gatorade is kicking off an offseason program to help elevate the performance of top incoming NFL rookies like Heyward through sports nutrition science.
The Scores Report was fortunate enough to catch up with Heyward to discuss a variety of topics, including what he learned from Gatorade about his nutritional needs at GSSI and whether or not he’ll perform at this year’s scouting combine after having recent shoulder surgery. We also asked him about his thoughts on the Ohio State players that were suspended five games next season, what pro athlete he models his game after and his thoughts about playing in either a 3-4 or 4-3 at the next level. Of course, we couldn’t let him go without getting his prediction on this year’s Super Bowl.
Cameron Heyward: Hello?
The Scores Report: Hey Cam, how are you?
CH: Pretty good – you?
TSR: Good, good! You enjoying yourself down in Dallas?
CH: Oh yeah, definitely.
TSR: Give me the scoop on what you’re doing with Gatorade and how things are going at the GSSI.
CH: Gatorade has a great program going right now. I’m in the GSSI lab and they put me through a series of tests. I went through an injury recently and while I’m still working through it, this is definitely helping me through it, too. We’re working on things that measure my speed with power, as well as my reaction time to see how I deal with power over a long period of time. They measured my body fat too – all these different things to help you find another edge to help prepare your body, as well as to educate yourself on what you need to do to be in tiptop shape.
TSR: What’s one thing that you’ve learned about yourself that you didn’t know before you took part in the program?
CH: Coming in off a week of working out before my surgery, one thing I learned is that I have a long way to go. Another thing is you’re trying to improve so many different things so that your brain is more empowered in that it runs the program. When you have the brain working, I think the body just follows. I’m learning so much more about that, as well as just being more educated on my nutrition as well.
TSR: Speaking of nutrition, what’s the one thing you’ve learned about your eating habits? You’re a young guy so you can probably get away with eating foods that aren’t exactly healthy for you – not that you do anyway – but when you get older it won’t be that way. Have you learned better eating habits while you’ve been there?
CH: Well, my mentor is DeMarcus Ware and one thing I’ve already learned is that you don’t want to wait until the end of your career to learn about nutrition. He said, you know, back in his day that he would always put off the nutrition stuff like supplements and would never take that stuff. But now he’s taking them and he told me to take advantage of my nutrition now so that you can have a long career and be healthy. What I’m learning more about is all the different types of Gatorade that can help you. Many athletes get into Gatorade because they see everyone else drinking it but it helps you grow, and fuel and allow your body to perform at its highest peak.
TSR: Are you doing anything else with Gatorade at the Super Bowl?
CH: I’m just at the lab and I’m meeting so many different people, learning so much more about myself and hopefully all of this will benefit me in the future.
TSR: You mentioned your surgery earlier. How has the recovery been and are you going to be able to participate in the scouting combine in a couple of weeks?
CH: I’m going to do as much as I can. I’m actually ahead of where I’m supposed to be because I’m getting motion in my arm. In fact, the doctors are telling me to slow down because I don’t want to blow out my arm right away. But I’m itching to get back into it and I’ll be ready as much as I can. If I’m not ready by the combine, there’s always the [Ohio State] Pro Day. I’m not going to worry and I’m not going to stress about it. I’m just going to keep working, keep chugging along and when I’m completely healthy, I can’t wait to get right back to it.
TSR: Every athlete wants to be there own man, but is there a NFL player that you model your game after? What pro athlete, from the defensive end position do you aspire to be?
CH: I think a lot of people compare me to Richard Seymour. I may not be the exact Richard Seymour-type, but I think my game resembles his a little bit. I think my versatility between both end and tackle, or being able to play in both a 3-4 or 4-3 at either end or tackle benefits me as well.
TSR: Do you have a scheme that you prefer? I know some guys don’t want to play in a 3-4 but would you play the end spot in that alignment?
CH: Oh, I would love to. I’ll go to any position that helps the team and I’m the type of player that just wants to help the team. If you want or need me to play a position, I’ll play it. Any way I can help.
TSR: I know you didn’t play in the Senior Bowl but were you there?
CH: Yeah, I went for one day to do some interviews.
TSR: I imagine a variety of NFL teams spoke with you when you were down there. Can you share some insight on the interview process?
CH: Yeah, I talked to teams that play the 3-4 as well as the 4-3. Of the 4-3 teams, I spoke with Tampa Bay and the Redskins were one of the 3-4 teams I talked to, as well as the Cowboys. But just talking to everybody it’s an eye-opener and it makes you want to work even harder.
TSR: Hey congratulations on the bowl win against Arkansas. That was one wild game.
CH: Thank you. I think our team played extremely well and I also think Arkansas played extremely well, but we were able to get the job done at the end.
TSR: What was your take on some of your Ohio State players being suspended? I know that OSU always has a ton of depth but when you lose players like Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron and DeVier Posey for five games it hurts. Can the Buckeyes manage in those first five games next year and get back to a bowl if not a championship?
CH: Definitely. The thing about Ohio State is that we’re not just built around one player. A lot of people get caught up in just one player, but that’s why you have 11 guys on the field at one time and there’s a lot of good players on that team that are going to be great next year. I’m looking for them to do some big things and I think our defensive line next year could be even more relentless. I think they could totally disrupt games more and compete at a high level.
TSR: Were you surprised that some of those players decided to go back to Ohio State for their senior years instead of declaring for the draft?
CH: No, I think it’s their own decision. I went through a situation where I stayed another year and I feel like I made the right decision. You can’t be surprised by it or think different of it. You know, if they leave they leave and best of luck to them. They’re great people and even though they got caught in some trouble, I still respect them as teammates and they’re my friends. They did the right thing and they’re going to pay their dues, but when they get back on that field they’re going to make some things happen.
TSR: Hey Cam, you’ve been a pleasure to talk with and I want to wish you nothing but the best. Enjoy your time down there and everything you’re doing with Gatorade. Before you go, you know I’ve got to ask you on question: Who’s your pick for the Super Bowl?
CH: You know, I have a lot of family in Pittsburgh right now so if I didn’t choose the Steelers I’d probably get shot.
TSR: That’s not good.
CH: Plus, you know Dick LeBeau is a O-State grad, even though A.J. Hawk is on the other side. But I’ve gotta go with my Steelers.
TSR: Maybe next year at this time you will be a Steeler.
CH: Hey, you never know. I’m just going to keep working hard and see what happens.
TSR: Anything else you’d like to say about Gatorade or your Super Bowl experience so far?
CH: I’d just like to say that Gatorade has provided so much and I’ve learned so much from them. It’s an unbelievable process that I’m going through and I feel so humble – I’m truly grateful to be a part of it.
TSR: Have a lot of fun this weekend and again, I wish you nothing but the best, Cam.
CH: Thank you – take care.
TSR: You, too.