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Cameron Heyward chats with The Scores Report

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.

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Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Arkansas has Sugar Bowl win in its hands…then drops it.

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) is chased from the pocket by Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Hayward (97) during first half action of the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana January 4, 2011. UPI/A.J. Sisco

Here are five quick-hit observations on Ohio State’s wild 31-26 win over Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

1. From the opening play of the game, Arkansas blew its opportunities.
Little did Arkansas know that the first play from scrimmage would be an omen for the rest of the game. Ryan Mallett threw a perfectly timed spiral to streaking receiver Joe Adams, who beat the coverage and would have had a touchdown had he hung onto the ball. It was the first of six dropped passes for the Hogs on the night, most of which came in crucial situations. And the drops weren’t the only opportunities Arkansas missed on the night. From Dane Sanzenbacher’s fluke fumble-recovery-turned-touchdown in the first quarter to the missed scoring opportunity after Boom Herron’s fumble late in the fourth quarter to Colton Miles-Nash’s inability to pick the ball up cleanly on teammate Ben Buchanan’s blocked punt to Solomon Thomas’ interception of Mallett in the final minute, the Razorbacks blew it time and time again. Wisconsin was heavily criticized for missing opportunities to beat TCU in the Rose Bowl last Saturday, but that was nothing compared to what Arkansas did Tuesday night. Their fans will need a lobotomy after watching that game.

2. Cameron Heyward will make one NFL team very happy some day.
Heyward is an absolute monster and he and the rest of his defensive linemates deserve major praise for harassing Mallett all night. He manhandled Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love and he didn’t allow Mallett to set his feet for many of his throws. When Mallett had to step up in the pocket to pass, he was widely inaccurate, often throwing the ball at his receivers’ feet. His wideouts didn’t do him many favors, but the Buckeyes’ defense really brought the heat on third down and made life uncomfortable for the Razorback signal caller. If it weren’t for Heyward and crew, Arkansas may have scored 40 points.

3. The SEC curse is over for Ohio State.
Try as they did to lose the game, the Buckeyes finally got the SEC monkey off their backs. The win snapped a nine-game bowl losing streak against SEC teams. OSU also saved some face for the Big Ten, which went 0-4 on New Year’s Day. Terrelle Pryor threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 115 yards on 15 carries. On a night when Herron only gained 3.6 yards per carry and couldn’t get anything going on the early downs, Pryor stepped up several times when the Buckeyes’ offense faced third-and-long. He also picked up a huge first down on a quarterback sneak late in the game to shed time off the clock and keep the ball in OSU’s possession while they tried to preserve the lead. For the second year in a row, Pryor was special in a BCS bowl.

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2010 Big Ten College Football Preview: Ohio State back on top

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off to running back Brandon Saine #3 of the Buckeyes during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big Eleven this season:

#1 Ohio State
Some believe the Buckeyes’ offense might be close to catching up to their defense in terms of dominance, which is saying something with the way OSU’s D played a year ago. The Buckeyes return all three leading rushers from 2009 in Brandon Saine, Dan Herron and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who some believe has become a more committed teammate over the offseason. The key to OSU becoming a national title threat is Pryor, or more specifically, whether or not he’ll make opponents respect his passing game. The good thing for him and the Buckeyes on a whole is that they return four starters to a veteran offensive line that will open up plenty of holes for a deep and talented group of running backs. Defensively, OSU was a top five unit last season and could be once again this year assuming they can generate a pass-rush and the safeties can hold up in coverage. Cameron Heyward is one of the nation’s best defensive ends and Ross Homan is a playmaker at the outside linebacker spot. The secondary isn’t flashy, but cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence are solid. From a schedule standpoint, if they can beat Miami in Columbus in the second week of the season, they should be 6-0 heading into Madison on October 16. From there, they’ll be tested by Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa, but this is your clear favorite to win the Big Ten.

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2009 college football spring predictions: Florida No. 1

As spring practices wrap up across the country, Andy Staples of SI.com ranked the top 25 college football teams entering the 2009 season. You can see Staples’ rankings by clicking the link above.

I’m intrigued by a couple of teams on his top 25, most notably Ole’ Miss (No. 7), Ohio State (No. 9) and TCU (No. 11).

Ole’ Miss is going to give a lot of SEC teams trouble this year with 16 total starters (8 on offense, 8 on defense) returning from last year, including quarterback Jevan Snead, who enters his second full season as a starter after throwing 26 touchdowns last season. They lost key components in offensive tackle Michael Oher and defensive tackle Peria Jerry, but they essentially return the same team that beat Florida, LSU and stomped Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl last year. (Not to mention also gave Alabama a game in Tuscaloosa.)

Out of the teams Staples ranks in his top 10, Ohio State has the fewest returning starters at nine. But quarterback Terrelle Pryor will only continue to improve with more playing time and running back Dan “Boom” Herron will ease the loss of Beanie Wells to the NFL. The Buckeyes should also have one of the best defensive fronts in the Big Ten, with end Lawrence Wilson and tackle Cameron Heyward set to return.

TCU turned a lot of heads last year after compiling an 11-2 record, including impressive wins over BYU and Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. They had one of the fastest defenses in the nation last year and they held opponents to a staggering 11.3 points per game. But they lost seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, which was obviously their strength, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll stack up with Utah again in the Mountain West.

Another team to keep an eye on is Oregon State, who returns two explosive playmakers in running back Jacquizz Rodgers and wide receiver James Rodgers. But as Staples writes in his top 25 rankings, quarterback Lyle Moevano is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and will battle senior Sean Canfield in preseason practice.

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