As part of today’s story on wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, I asked Ralph Friedgen whether he’d had any discussions with the junior about the NFL.
“I told Darrius that that should be the farthest thing from your mind right now. Let’s have a good year and I’ll give you my honest appraisal of where I think you’re at and we’ll do the routine we’ve done with everybody else and give you as much information to make the right decision.
I told him he just has to trust me and he said he did trust me. Let’s just focus on this year and don’t listen to all these agents. We’ll get the right one for you there, too. If you look at past years, the years weve had good football teams, more guys got drafted than years we didn’t. You get more recognition when the team wins….
I’ve never seen the ‘I’ in him. I’ve never seen if he doesn’t catch 10 balls in a game, he’s sulking afterward. I haven’t seen that in him. I’d be really surprised if I ever do. I’d be really concerned if I ever do see that.”
Chances are, Friedgen won’t. Heyward-Bey seems to be handling whatever attention he receives with his usual grace, and he’s smart enough to be outgoing and personable while maintaining a necessary level of guardedness. Really, it’s a difficult balancing act for anyone, let alone someone who is 21, and Heyward-Bey makes it look easy.
Equally impressive is how seamlessly Heyward-Bey fits in not only with his teammates, but also Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin. Everyone likes to talk about senior leadership, but it’s not hard to get the sense Heyward-Bey will be a vital interlocutor for this team because of his connections with his old-school head coach and his energetic, young play-caller.
“I can talk to both of them,” Heyward-Bey said when I asked about the generational difference. “Can a lot of people say that? I don’t know.”
A lot? Probably not. And that’s just one more reason Heyward-Bey will be one of the Terps’ linchpins this year.
—- Patrick Stevens