2017 Lineman of the Year Jalik Heyward will join Howard’s Shawn Bowman as members of the University of Maine football team next fall.
Heyward led Hodgson back to the Division I state tournament last year, punctuating a season with 86 tackles, half of which were in the backfield. He also had a team-high 11 sacks.
The defensive back chose Orono in part because he’s seen a pipeline to professional football that runs through Maine.
Delawareans Montell Owens (Concord) and Justin Perillo (Tatnall) have parlayed success with the Black Bears into NFL careers. That intrigued Heyward.
“They told me all about the Delaware kids who went from there to the League, plus all of the prospects who have made it, and I hope to be one of them.”
Heyward won’t be going alone, as Bowman suddenly landed on Maine’s radar three weeks ago, and only recently committed to the Division I-FCS school.
Bowman was being courted by primarily Division II schools like Kutztown and Shippensburg, but when Maine stepped on the table with a full ride, they jumped to the head of Bowman’s class.
While Bowman and Heyward met on the field several times when Hodgson was still in Flight B, Bowman said the first time they met was on a simultaneous campus visit, and it didn’t take them long to become friendly.
“The friendship has sparked, we’re already planning on being roommates. It was ‘he was the other big kid on Hodgson, and I was the big kid on Howard’. There was no other type of contact before that.”
Both are excited to have another Delawarean joining them in the Maine class of 2022.
“That’s going to definitely help out,” Heyward said. “We’ll be able to help each other and motivate each other to get to the next level.”
Bowman and Heyward won’t be the only two Delawareans on Maine next year. New Castle-native Jamehl Wiley is listed as a defensive end. He played at Red Lion before transferring to Eastern Christian Academy and Baltimore’s St. Frances Academy.
They won’t get a true homecoming next year, as Maine isn’t slated to play conference rival Delaware in 2018.