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Heyward revels in return

by: , HEYWARD

CORVALLIS —Keith Heyward was hoping he’d one day be able to return to coach at his alma mater. The former Oregon State cornerback just didn’t know it would happen so quickly. “It feels great to be back,” says Heyward, hired in January to coach OSU’s cornerbacks after a year at Cal Poly. “This is like a dream place for me to be — coaching where I played. “The guys on the coaching staff are like family to me. I can’t say enough good things about this place. I’m just happy everything worked out.” Heyward, 29, was recruited by OSU coach Mike Riley out of Los Angeles’ Taft High and started as a sophomore under Riley in 1998. After Riley left for the San Diego Chargers, Heyward started his final two seasons under Dennis Erickson and played a key role on the Beavers’ 11-1 team of 2000 that trounced Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. After three seasons playing in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe, Heyward served two seasons as a graduate assistant at Oregon State before accepting a full-time position coaching linebackers at Division I-AA Cal Poly last year. The Mustangs were 7-4 and missed the playoffs by one game, losing 31-28 to No. 1-ranked North Dakota State in the season’s penultimate contest. “It was a good learning experience,” Heyward says. “We played a little different style of football and the flex defense, and I learned how a different staff operates. And coaching linebackers gave me insight into another position.” When OSU cornerback coach Nigel Burton left to take the defensive coordinator position at Nevada, Riley quickly hired Heyward. “One of the easiest hires I’ve ever made,” Riley says. “We hated to see Keith leave after he was a GA. I contemplated some ways to keep him. When Nigel left, there were no other candidates. We never even thought about anybody else if Keith wanted the job. “Keith is a very detailed guy who showed us as a GA he was dedicated to becoming a great coach.” Heyward takes over the important Los Angeles recruiting area. Burton’s other area of responsibility, Portland, now will go to assistant head coach Jay Locey. “I know the Los Angeles area well, know a lot of coaches down there and know where the talent is,” Heyward says. “I have some foundations set up already, so it should be an easy transition.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.