Darrius Heyward-Bey: Welcome to the Black Hole
DHB bypassed scholarships from Boston College, Alabama, Virgina, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State to enroll at Maryland in 2005.
The 6'2" 210 lb wide receiver was red shirted his freshman year in 2006, and started 10 of 13 games, earning freshman All American Honors.
DHB set a school freshman season record with 45 catches for 694 yards with a 15.4 YPC average. DHB was also the fastest player in school history, clocking a 4.23 at 40 yards in 2006.
However, there were troubles at the quarterback position and the school was unable to find a second wide receiver to help take some of the pressure off of DHB. Because of this, DHB was constantly having to fight his way through double coverage.
DHB again lead the team his sophomore year with 51 catches for 768 yards and a 15.4 YPC average. With the trouble at quarterback, DHB was used more as a runner out of the backfield and recorded 25 carries for 314 yards on the ground.
DHB was also used on reverses, and during his junior year he carried the ball 13 times out of the backfield for 202 yards and a gaudy 13.5 yards per attempt, averaging 14.23 yards every time he touched the ball.
The young man has a very high work ethic and his team and winning come before any personal goals to try and pad his stats. He accepted his team's offense for what it was and did whatever was asked of him in the role they had for him.
Maryland rarely ever threw the ball down the field to take full advantage of this young man's talents, and it makes you wonder what type of numbers this young man would have had coming out of college.
Had he played on a high powered offense in college and had a No. 2 wide receiver to play alongside him, one can only imagine the gaudy stats this young and very talented wide receiver could have put up.
Chris Stuber at Scouts.com had this to say pre-draft about this young man's potential coming out of college and into the draft:
"Heyward-Bey is an explosive playmaker who can change the momentum of a game on any play. He gets a quick release off the line, runs good routes, flashes reliable hands and is elusive in the open field. He gets separation on the outside and tracks down deep throws with ease. He’s doesn’t shy away from going over the middle and making tough receptions in traffic."
As for all the folks out there that have already added a "cannot miss" title to any of the wide receivers coming out in this year's draft, history does not bare out your assertions per the very good article regarding top 10 first round wide receivers written by Matt Bowen at NationalFootball Post, which can be read here.
The one thing I learned from reading Matt Bowens' article is what type of wide receiver is most likely to bust and why coming out of college into the NFL.
It also describes what a wide receiver needs to succeed in the NFL. My money is on DHB; his talents and skills transfer over to the NFL level better than a Crabtree, and that includes his team first attitude and top work ethic.
Only time will tell, but I know he should become one of J Russ's best friends on the field.
Welcome to the Black Hole and the Oakland Raiders DHB, welcome.
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