Note: Recently, LLT was granted the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Cameron Heyward, the Steelers' 2011 1st round draft pick! The following is a transcript of their interview. Steelers Universe would like to extend our gratitude to Cameron for taking the time to sit down with us, and Randi Chapman of Priority Sports, for coordinating our interview with Cameron!
This is Perry Biggerstaff with Steelers Universe talking with Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick Cameron Heyward.
SU: Cameron, Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with Steelers Universe. You know, with the other draft picks we have interviewed, we have welcomed them to the team and to Pittsburgh. With you, I guess it’s more appropriate to say “Welcome home”.
CH: Thank you, you know, it's a true pleasure to come to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a great organization, a great town, and to call it home again is just a great feeling.
SU: All of us have followed your story…and those of us who are old enough remember your father, are thrilled to see everything come …sort of…full circle and we welcome you back to Pittsburgh.
CH: Oh yeah, you know, having my Dad play for the Pittsburgh Panthers and having him be an alum there, I have a lot to live up to and I'm ready for that and looking forward to it.
SU: A lot has been made about your father being an NFL player, and I sense a desire for you to embrace your father in a honest way, with all his strengths and his flaws…but I sense that you have a determination to define yourself outside of your football heritage. Is that correct?
CH: Yeah, going into the NFL I don't want to just live off his legacy. I want to be more than just a football player. I want to be an ambassador for the NFL and for the Steelers.
SU: You were lucky enough to at least get the playbook, but the lockout has got to frustrate you. What are you doing until the lockout is lifted?
CH: Honestly, I'm just making the most of my time. I've got my playbook and I'm looking that over and I'm working out.
SU: I think sometimes people fail to fully appreciate how “team fit” is so essential in player development. I think you are a great fit for the Steelers defense. Your tape shows that you are not only strong…you have a good variety of moves…but you are assignment responsible. What part of your game do you feel like you need to work on to be pro-ready?
CH: I think that you can constantly improve on your pass rush. Get bigger...stronger...faster. Work on the mental aspect of the game even more. I'm constantly working on that aspect. I'm just going to learn from all the guys, I mean they have so much to offer. Guys like Ziggy Hood and Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Those guys can teach me a lot. I just have to be open to what they have to say.
SU: You're right, and that has to excite you. You get to learn under Dick Lebeau and behind players like Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith, whom some call the best 3-4 DE in the game.
CH: Oh yeah, it's very exciting. A lot of people say that the Steelers D-line is getting old...but me personally, I think they are constantly getting better. These are guys who worked hard at their craft and can help me work hard at my craft so I need to consider myself very blessed.
SU: No disrespect towards the current starters, but let’s look down the road. It would at least appear that the Steelers expectations are a future DE tandem of yourself and Ziggy Hood. Do you think the two of you share a lot of the same qualities or do you think that you possess different strengths that may compliment each other?
CH: Well it's hard for me to say anything about myself. Ziggy is a proven player who stepped up and played well when people got injured and I have yet to prove anything. I just want to contribute where and when I can and help us contend for a Super Bowl.
SU: Is there a player that you pattern your game after?
CH: I love looking at guys like Richard Seymour. He really sticks out for me because of his versatility. He could move inside then come back outside and he could disrupt the passing game as well as the running game.
SU: Do you have a favorite Steelers player that you watched growing up?
CH: I think you just can't go wrong with the entire Steel Curtain. There was just so much talent in the Steel Curtain that it's hard to just point out one. I like those defensive players more than anything.
SU: A lot of people would have named some of the current players...but you went "old school" on me. You went with the Steel Curtain of the 70s. I like that.
CH: Well, those guys are what made the game the way it is today. They paved the way for us and we are very fortunate to learn from those guys who developed the game. Making it possible for us to take things forward.
SU: As a person who was pretty much raised around those NFL locker rooms, do you feel like you have an insider’s viewpoint as to what obstacles to avoid?
CH: I have the insight to know that the NFL is an opportunity not a lifestyle. It's all about doing the right things and being willing to be a role model for others. A lot of people look up to NFL players and you have to be willing to set the standard. You have to know that your blessed and be humble about it. If you're not willing to learn from your mistakes your not the best person you can be.
SU: Tell us what drives Cameron Heyward, what motivates you?
CH: The thing that drives me the most is that I want to be known as one of the greatest to ever play the game. I have a real hard time with losing and I am a perfectionist on the field. If it wasn't done right, then I'm not satisfied.
SU: You are going to be on the same field as players that you watched growing up…Is there a specific QB that you would love to get your hands on?
CH: The one in the Super Bowl.
SU: That's a great way to end an interview. Cameron it has just been a pleasure talking to you. You are going to make a lot of people Cameron Heyward fans with answers like that. Before you leave can you tell me where Steelers fans should go for all their Steelers needs?
CH: Of course...Steelers Universe.com
SU: Cameron it's been a pleasure talking to you. I am so impressed with the caliber of players that we have drafted this year and I am looking forward to watching you develop and I plan on following your career for years to come. That was Cameron Heyward, Defensive End from Ohio State and Steelers 1st round pick.