Heyward-Bey to Enter NFL Draft
Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has decided to forgo his senior year of college and enter the NFL draft.
The announcement was not a surprise even though Heyward-Bey, one of the most prolific receivers in school history, declined to publicly reveal which way he had been leaning in recent weeks. Heyward-Bey called it a difficult decision but said he is ready for a “new chapter” in his life and feels confident with the feedback he and Coach Ralph Friedgen received from NFL personnel regarding his draft position.
“If it wasn’t positive feedback, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Heyward-Bey, who declined to elaborate on the opinions of NFL officials.
An all-American as a sophomore and a two-time all-ACC selection, Heyward-Bey ranks second in school history in career receiving yards (2,089), third in receptions (138) and tied for third in touchdown catches (13). This past season was his least productive in several statistical categories, but Friedgen noted Heyward-Bey’s work ethic and improvements he has made in route running and reading defenses.
“His intangibles are off the charts,” said Friedgen, calling Heyward-Bey one of the best receivers he has ever coached.
After Maryland’s victory in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 30, Heyward-Bey consulted extensively with his mother, his aunt and Friedgen. He recently visited Friedgen’s home to talk to his coach about the decision for nearly four hours. By Saturday, he knew he would turn pro.
“He has my blessing,” Friedgen said.
During this past regular season, Heyward-Bey led the team and was ranked eighth in the ACC in receiving yards. He also ranked among the nation’s leaders in rushing by a wide receiver. His 76-yard reverse in the third quarter of the Sept. 27 game at Clemson swung momentum and help fuel Maryland’s come-from-behind 20-17 victory.
That game-changing play was Heyward-Bey’s only touch against Clemson. How Heyward-Bey was used in the offense was a topic discussed throughout the season because Maryland occasionally had a difficult time getting its most explosive receiver the ball. During the Oct. 4 loss at Virginia, Maryland went 57 minutes without attempting to throw Heyward-Bey a pass. Despite the occasional lack of touches, Heyward-Bey has declined to blame anyone and on one occasion apologized to teammates for his lack of production in a game.
Here is a story I wrote during the season about DHB’s lack of touches.
“I don’t think any of my years hurt me in any way,” Heyward-Bey said today. “I think I showed toughness this season by bouncing back when things weren’t going right.”
Heyward-Bey thanked Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin, and he said he would miss teammates and fans. Heyward-Bey said he has not enrolled in classes for the spring semester so he can concentrate on training for the April draft. He has neither chosen an agent nor selected a place to train. He pledged to earn his degree sometime in the next few years.
Who else declares for the draft could affect where Heyward-Bey is selected. Two other standout wide receivers, North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks and Rutgers’ Kenny Britt, have already announced they would enter the draft. Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree has not yet made an official announcement.
“I have never really been into who else is coming out,” Heyward-Bey said. “I’m confident in my own ability.”
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