Lions' Heyward commits to Ohio State

Cameron Heyward sat in front of the table at the Peachtree Ridge media center, flanked by his mother Charlotte Heyward-Blackwell and stepdad Cory Blackwell.

At exactly 2:31 p.m. on Wednesday, in front of more than 100 students and reporters, he took a deep breath and begin to utter a sentence that would immediately change his life.

"I've thought long and hard about it," the two-sport star said, as he looked around the room at his classmates and teammates.

He then paused. It was only for three or four seconds, but it was indicative of how grinding and grueling the process had been for the massive defensive lineman and his family. It was as if he had to steel himself for the next six words that were going to come out of his mouth.

Because he knew that after they were spoken, his life would never be the same.

Heyward continued: "... I've decided to choose Ohio State."

And just like that, the Cameron Heyward Recruiting Saga was over.

After a brief silence (there were a lot of University of Georgia fans in the room after all) the crowd in the media center erupted in applause. His mother and stepdad smiled wide.

And what seemed like the weight of the world had just been lifted off Heyward's giant shoulders.

"I had to keep my mouth shut; I couldn't talk as much," said Heyward, who also plans to play basketball for the highly rated Ohio State hoops team. "... I had to be a mature adult about it, maybe now I can just be a kid again."

The first-team All-County defensive tackle had narrowed down his choices to four schools - Ohio State, Florida, LSU and Georgia.

In the end, after being recruited very hard by all four national powers, he felt the Buckeyes were the best fit. He will join linebacker Larry Grant, a Norcross grad, as another Gwinnett product on the Ohio State roster.

"They've got a good program," Heyward said. "And I think I can grow there a lot as a person."

He then added: "They definitely have a need for defensive linemen."

Ironically, Ohio State was the only school out of his final four that Heyward didn't officially visit.

But he did make it to Columbus for an unofficial back in November, when the No. 1 Buckeyes defeated No. 2 Michigan in college football's regular season game of the year.

Safe to say that weekend made quite an impression on Heyward.

And his mom.

"I think the unofficial to Ohio State really sealed it," Heyward-Blackwell said. "We got to hang out with the fans and just talk to normal people. They didn't know he was a recruit.

"... and they started talking about Coach (Jim) Tressel and that he was such a great man. And everybody was just so nice."

As his recruitment continued however, the process really began to wear on Heyward and his family.

Not only were coaches from the four schools calling and texting all day every day, but Internet reporters were phoning as well - constantly trying to get a hint of where Heyward was leaning.

"I think it definitely wore him down," Peachtree Ridge head coach Blair Armstrong said. "Just with the stress of having to make a decision. All the recruiters are nice and good and handle it well, but it's still that constant barrage. Every day there was somebody calling and coming by it seemed like."

Said Heyward: "Well, just having everybody call my mom. She's annoyed. I'm annoyed. We turned off our phones and everything. But it just took a while for me to make a decision. I didn't want to rush it or anything."

Even his teammates were trying to get a feel for where the big guy was heading. And one, punter and UGA commitment Drew Butler, was doing his best to convince Heyward that Athens was the best place for him.

"Oh, Drew tried every day," Heyward said with a smile. "But I couldn't let him get the best of me. Everybody said I had a real good poker face."

That poker face was nowhere to be found on Wednesday however. He couldn't hide his excitement about joining the Buckeyes.

"I think I've made a great decision," Heyward said.

And it turns out, the Buckeye faithful feel the same way.

Within seconds of his announcement, the Ohio State message boards lit up with posts about Heyward.

Posts like these from bucknuts.com:

"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!! He is going to be a beast!!!"

"Welcome to THE Ohio State University Mr. Heyward. Good news for all Buckeyes!!!"

"Welcome Mr. Heyward, and a sigh of relief is heard from this corner of the Buckeye Nation."

"YES! YES! YES! This is great news!"

"WOO HOO!!!!! What a great decision for Cameron! We need someone with his size and potential!"

Apparently, Hewyard's commitment was exclamation-point worthy for most Buckeye fans. And his high school coach thinks there is good reason for the Ohio State fan base to be so excited.

"He'll be an All-American," Armstrong said. "He can go as far as he wants to. He'll be in the NFL one day. Obviously, being in the right place at the right time, injuries and that stuff affects you, but if you're going to find a person and say he's got a chance to go that far he would definitely be one of those guys."