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Heyer's lost season could be winning proposition for Terps

November 10, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Stephon Heyer started what could be a long winning streak for the University of Maryland football team.

The 6-foot-7 senior offensive left tackle hasn't played a snap in the 2005 season, yet he has taken steps to become a cornerstone for the Terrapins in the future.

After spending this entire season sidelined by a torn ACL in his left knee, Heyer had entertained ending his college career and possibly making a run at an NFL career.

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But instead, Heyer decided to use his redshirt season and return to Maryland for one last run that could make winners out of everyone.

"It was a tough decision," said Heyer Tuesday at Maryland's weekly media conference. "When you are a senior, you look at things and you are ready to go. That was part of my thought process. Then I had to think, 'Am I ready to do it all over again?' And frankly, I am."

Heyer talked with his mother and Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen to weigh out his options. Friedgen told Heyer he'd love to have him back for the 2006 season, but he would help him with any decision he made.

Choosing to come back to Maryland became a win-win situation for Heyer. And hopefully, it will turn into a win-win-win-win situation for both the player and the Terps.

Win - a veteran Maryland offensive line in 2006.

Win - Using the line to be the anchor for a Terrapins run at the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Win - Heyer uses the opportunity to improve his game and showcase his talents.

Win - Heyer leaves with his degree and a lucrative NFL contract.

"Watching this team play made the decision easier," Heyer said. "They are playing hard and busting their behinds. They are no longer young guys. Now they are closer to my age and they will know what to do. I won't have to be stopping to show them."

Heyer has used his time to learn the textbook version of the offensive line positions while running and lifting weights to get ready for the endeavor. He said he will not be able to take the practice field until next fall. Academically, Heyer needs to complete four classes to get his criminal justice degree and plans to graduate in December 2006.

And in it all, Heyer is working to make himself more marketable for the NFL.

"I didn't redshirt my freshman year and I figured I needed another year to show what I could do in order to go to the NFL," he said. "I'm ready to do what I have to do to graduate, look better and play better. This was all my decision and it all came down to what I needed to do. It was hard early and I was injured, but when I realized what to do - to come back and play and help Maryland win an ACC championship - it was the thing to do."

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