Cameron Heyward
refer to caption
Heyward with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021
No. 97 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born: (1989-05-06) May 6, 1989 (age 33)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:295 lb (134 kg)
Career information
High school:Suwanee (GA) Peachtree Ridge
College:Ohio State (2007–2010)
NFL Draft:2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 31
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 4, 2022
Total tackles:557
Forced fumbles:7
Fumble recoveries:7
Pass deflections:43
Player stats at · PFR

Cameron Phillip Heyward (born May 6, 1989) is an American football defensive tackle[1] for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played college football at Ohio State. Heyward is the son of Pro Bowl NFL player Craig Heyward.

High school career

Heyward attended Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia, where he played for the Peachtree Ridge Lions high school football team. He was the 2006 Georgia Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year. The team tied for the Georgia Class 5A State Championship that same year. He totaled over 100 tackles and 16 sacks as a Senior. He was considered the 7th best football player in Georgia, and the 13th best defensive tackle in the nation by[2] He benched 335 pounds and squatted 510 pounds, and was considered a scholar athlete at Peachtree Ridge High School with a GPA of 3.2.

College career

As a true freshman in 2007, Heyward was named a freshman All-American by Sporting News, and after recording 30 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 passes broken up. The Ohio State Buckeyes went to the BCS National Championships with Heyward as a freshman, losing to Louisiana State University, 38–24.

As a sophomore in 2008, he recorded 36 tackles and three sacks. The Buckeyes made it to another bowl game in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against Texas, losing 24–21.

As a junior, in 2009, he had 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, leading the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl, in which the Buckeyes won 26–17 against Oregon. Following his junior season, Heyward decided against declaring for the NFL Draft, instead returning for his senior season with the Buckeyes.[3]

Heyward amassed 48 total tackles and 3.5 sacks in his senior season, returning an interception for a career high 80 yards against Miami. He led the Buckeyes to a berth in the Allstate 2011 Sugar Bowl, beating the Arkansas Razorbacks 31–26.

Heyward finished his career at Ohio State with 162 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and one interception.[4]

Professional career

Coming out of Ohio State, Heyward was projected to be selected in the first round by the majority of analysts and scouts. Sports Illustrated ranked him the 16th best prospect and the fifth best defensive end prior to the NFL Combine.[5] Although he attended the NFL Combine, he was only able to perform the vertical after coming off elbow surgery in January. After the combine, he was projected to be selected in the first or second rounds because of the large number of defensive end prospects that were graded highly. At the conclusion of the combine, he was ranked the eighth best defensive end and the 26th best prospect by[6] NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranked him the seventh best defensive end and 27th best prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft.[7]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash Vertical jump
6 ft 4+58 in
(1.95 m)
294 lb
(133 kg)
34+14 in
(0.87 m)
10+18 in
(0.26 m)
4.95 s 30 in
(0.76 m)
All values from NFL Combine[8][9]


The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Heyward in the first round (31st overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was the seventh defensive end selected in 2011.[10]

External video
video icon Steelers select Heyward 31st overall
video icon Heyward introductory press conference

On July 29, 2011, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Heyward to a four-year, $6.70 million contract that included $5.41 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $3.37 million.[11]

He entered training camp competing with veterans Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, and Ziggy Hood for a starting defensive end position.[12] Going into the regular season, he was named the backup strong side defensive end behind Brett Kiesel. After wearing jersey number 95 during the pre-season of his rookie campaign, Heyward switched to No. 97 after Jason Worilds opted to switch to No. 93.

He made his professional regular season debut in the Pittsburgh Steeler's season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens and made one solo tackle as the Ravens routed the Steelers 35–7. On October 9, 2011, Heyward recorded his first career sack on Tennessee Titan's quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, while also making two solo tackles in a 38–17 victory. During a Week 16 matchup against the St. Louis Rams, he made a season-high three solo tackles in a 27–0 victory.[13]

He finished the season with 11 combined tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a pass deflection, and he blocked a field goal in 16 games. The Pittsburgh Steelers finished second in the AFC North with a 12–4 record and received a playoff berth.

On January 8, 2012, Heyward appeared in his first career postseason games and made four combined tackles in a 29–23 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos.


Heyward playing for the Steelers in 2012.
Heyward playing for the Steelers in 2012.

He entered training camp competing with Ziggy Hood for the vacant weakside defensive end position. Hood won the job, making Heyward the backup for the season.[14]

He played in the Pittsburgh Steelers' season-opener against the Denver Broncos and made three combined tackles in the 31–19 loss. The next week, Heyward recorded a solo tackle and made his first sack of the season on Mark Sanchez as the Steelers routed the New York Jets 27–10. On December 30, 2012, he collected a season-high four combined tackles and was credited with half a sack in Thad Lewis during a 24–10 win over the Cleveland Browns. He was used as a rotational defensive end throughout the season and had 20 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks.[13]


Heyward began the regular season as the backup strongside defensive end behind Brett Keisel. He appeared in the Pittsburgh Steeler's season-opener and made one solo tackle in a 16–9 loss to the Tennessee Titans. On September 22, 2013, he earned his first career start in place of weakside defensive end Ziggy Hood and finished the 40–23 loss to the Chicago Bears with one solo tackle. Heyward earned his second start during a Week 6 matchup against the New York Jets and recorded two combined tackles in a 19–6 victory. He remained the starting weakside defensive end for the rest of the season. On November 3, 2013, he made five combined tackles and earned his first sack of the season on Tom Brady, as the New England Patriots routed the Steelers 55–31.[15] In Week 14, he made a season-high ten combined tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection during a 34–28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. He finished the season with 59 combined tackles (35 solo), seven pass deflections, five sacks, two tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery in 16 games and 13 starts.[13] He finished second on the team (first among defensive linemen) with five sacks and led the team with 31 quarterback pressures.[16] Pro Football Focus ranked him 19th among all the qualified defensive ends in 2013.[17]


On April 22, 2014, the Pittsburgh Steelers exercised a fifth-year option on his rookie contract paying him $6.96M in 2015.[16]

Throughout training camp he competed with Brett Keisel, Stephon Tuitt, and Cam Thomas to be a starting defensive end. Defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau named him the starting weak side defensive end, opposite Cam Thomas, to begin the regular season.[18]

He started the Pittsburgh Steelers season-opener against the Cleveland Browns and made four combined tackles and sacked Brian Hoyer in a 30–27 victory.[19] The following game, he recorded a season-high seven combined tackles as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Steelers 26–6. On October 3, 2014, Heyward was fined $22,050 by the NFL for using abusive language towards an official during Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On December 21, 2014, Heyward recorded four combined tackles and was credited 1.5 sacks on Alex Smith during a 20–12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The following game, he made a season-high six solo tackles, an assisted tackle, and sacked Andy Dalton in a 27–17 win.[13] He finished the season with 53 combined tackles (33 solo), a career-high 7.5 sacks, and four pass deflections in 16 games and 16 starts. Heyward played in 64 consecutive games during his first four seasons.[13] He received the sixth highest overall grade among all qualified defensive ends from Pro Football Focus in 2014.[17]

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished first in the AFC North with an 11–5 record in 2014. On January 3, 2015, Heyward made two combined tackles in a 30–17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wildcard game.


On July 16, 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Heyward to a six-year, $59.25 million extension that includes $15 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $12 million.[20][21]

Heyward began the season as the de facto left defensive end, along with Stephon Tuitt. He started the season-opener against the New England Patriots and recorded four combined tackles in a 28–21 loss. The next week, he made five solo tackles and sacked Colin Kaepernick as the Steelers routed the San Francisco 49ers 43–18. On November 8, 2015, Heyward racked up a season-high eight combined tackles in a 38–35 victory over the Oakland Raiders.[13]

Heyward finished the season with 54 combined tackles (39 solo), seven sacks, and two pass deflections in 16 games and 16 starts. The Pittsburgh Steelers finished second in the AFC North with a 10–6 record. On January 9, 2016, he made a solo tackle and sacked A. J. McCarron during an 18–16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The following game, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 23–16 to the eventual Super Bowl 50 Champions, the Denver Broncos. Heyward was ranked 88th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.[22]


Heyward started at defensive end in the Pittsburgh Steelers' season-opener against the Washington Redskins and collected two combined tackles in a 38–16 victory. On October 2, 2016, Heyward recorded a season-high seven solo tackles, two pass deflections, and sacked Alex Smith a career-high three times, as the Pittsburgh Steelers routed the Kansas City Chiefs 43–14.[13] During Week 6, he missed the first game of his career with a hamstring injury. His streak ended at 85 consecutive games and 49 consecutive starts.[23] On November 13, 2016, Heyward suffered a torn pectoral muscle during the Steelers loss to the Dallas Cowboys where he recorded two solo tackles. He announced two days later that he would be placed on injured reserve and would miss the rest of the season.[24][25] He finished the season with 22 combined tackles (17 solo), three sacks, and four pass deflections.


In Week 4, Heyward recorded two sacks and a fumble recovery in a 26–9 win over the Baltimore Ravens, earning him AFC Defensive Player of the Week.[26] On November 27, 2017, Heyward recorded a season-high six combined tackles and had two sacks on quarterback Brett Hundley in the Steelers' 31–28 victory against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12. His performance earned him his second AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors of the season. After the season, he was named to the First-team All-Pro team.[27] Head coach Mike Tomlin elected to rest Heyward during a Week 17 win against the Cleveland Browns as the Steelers had already clinched a playoff berth and first round bye.[28] Heyward finished the season with 45 combined tackles (30 solo), a career-high 12 sacks, and three pass deflections in 15 games and 15 starts.[13] Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 88.9, which ranked him tenth among all qualified interior defensive linemen in 2017.[29] He was also ranked 48th by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.[30]


In week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, Heyward recorded 1.5 sacks and 1 tackle for loss in a 41-17 blowout win.[31] In week 10 against the Carolina Panthers, Heyward recorded 2 sacks as the Steelers won 52–21.[32] Heyward finished the season with 51 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. He received an overall grade of 84.9 from Pro Football Focus in 2018, which ranked as the 16th highest grade among all qualifying interior defenders.[33]


Heyward alongside Jurrell Casey at the 2020 Pro Bowl
Heyward alongside Jurrell Casey at the 2020 Pro Bowl

In week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Heyward recorded 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble on Andy Dalton in the 27–3 win. He was named First-team All-Pro for the second time in his career on January 3, 2020.[34]


On September 6, 2020, Heyward signed a four-year, $65.6 million contract extension with the Steelers.[35] In Week 1 against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, Heyward recorded his first career interception off a pass thrown by Daniel Jones during the 26–16 win.[36] In Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Heyward recorded his first full sack of the season on Carson Wentz during the 38–29 win.[37]

NFL career statistics

Bold Career high
Year Team GP GS Tackles Fumbles Interceptions
Cmb Solo Ast Sck FF FR Yds Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD
2011 PIT 16 0 11 10 1 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2012 PIT 16 0 20 13 7 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2013 PIT 16 13 59 35 24 5.0 0 1 8 0 0 0.0 0 0 7
2014 PIT 16 16 53 33 20 7.5 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 4
2015 PIT 16 16 54 39 15 7.0 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 2
2016 PIT 7 7 21 17 4 3.0 0 1 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 4
2017 PIT 15 15 45 30 15 12.0 2 1 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 3
2018 PIT 16 16 51 29 22 8.0 1 1 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 3
2019 PIT 16 16 83 51 32 9.0 1 1 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 6
2020 PIT 15 15 54 30 24 4.0 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 3
2021 PIT 17 17 89 53 36 10.0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 9
Career[38] 166 131 540 340 200 68.0 7 6 9 2 0 0.0 0 0 42

Personal life

Heyward was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His late father Craig "Ironhead" Heyward was a former NFL fullback.[39] His father died from cancer, and Cameron was fined by the NFL for uniform violations when he displayed his father's nickname in an eye black message during the NFL's 2015 Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. Cameron stated that being part of the NFL was a blessing and he wanted to honor his dad and raise cancer awareness.[40]

During Heyward's freshman year at Ohio State University, he began dating Allie Schwarzwalder and proposed to her on New Year's Eve 2012 at Savoy. On May 11, 2013, they were married at Westin Convention Center at the Pittsburgh Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[41]

Heyward has three brothers. His youngest brother Connor played as a tight end for Michigan State. On April 30, 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Connor as a tight end in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft. [42]


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