INDIANAPOLIS — Like father, like son? Not for Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward.
First off, he stands 6-foot-5, six inches taller than his late father, running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, who died of a brain tumor in 2006. Second, he hopes his skills and not his last name are what attract attention from NFL teams.
“I can’t follow it; it’s his legacy,” Heyward said during his news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday. “I want to leave a legacy of my own. I don’t want to live in his shadow, but he was a great player.
“He’s always in my heart, and I appreciate everything he’s done, but I want to do everything by my own,” Heyward added. “I’m not asking anybody to give me a second look or anything because my dad was ‘Ironhead.’ They all know I have a big head, just like him.”
Heyward’s father rushed for 4,301 yards and 30 touchdowns with the Saints, Bears, Falcons, Rams and Colts from 1988 to 1998. During the draft process, Heyward has enjoyed meeting his dad’s former teammates and competitors.
“It’s funny to hear stories about him,” Heyward said. “I remember hearing a story about him and Tony Siragusa. It was hilarious. To see those guys around, it’s a true pleasure because you get to hear all these stories about your dad, and it gives you great moments about him.
“I don’t think I can share it right now,” he added with smile.
With a well-known last name, Heyward is accustomed to hearing comparisons. However, he doesn’t shy away from any of the expectations that might come from potentially being a second-generation professional football player.
“I hope I’ve got pressure, that’s one thing,” he said. “I’m hoping I’ve got a little bit of pressure behind me because I want to perform well, and 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 it all I’ve got.”
– Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com