Following is a question-and-answer session between Mel Kiper Jr. and Arizona State tight end Todd Heap. A junior, Heap has declared for the NFL draft.
Mel Kiper Jr.: How did you go about making the decision to leave Arizona State with eligibility still remaining and enter the NFL draft?
Todd Heap: I really didn't seriously consider leaving for the NFL until very late in the season. I tried to keep those thoughts in the back of my mind, focusing only on playing football at the highest level possible at Arizona State. In the end, it was a much harder decision than I thought it would be.
Kiper: What made the decision so difficult?
||I was a QB on the freshman team in high school. That was the first year I played football. From my sophomore year on, with the varsity, I played tight end. ”
||— Todd Heap
Heap: Your future is on the line. Plus, it's very hard to predict what will happen on draft day when you have to make the call in January. After I gathered as much information as possible and really looked at all the angles, I felt it was the right time for me to move on to the next level. I thrive on competition and believe strongly that I'm prepared both mentally and physically for the NFL.
Kiper: Tell me about your overall sports background. I know you have a great deal of prior experience on the hardwood.
Heap: That's right. I actually grew up as a basketball player since I was 5 years old. I come from a basketball family. My grandfather and great uncle played basketball at Arizona State. Last year I also played on the basketball team here at ASU. I didn't start playing football until my freshman year in high school.
Kiper: What position did you play on the basketball team at Arizona State and what skills from basketball did you apply at tight end with the Sun Devils?
Heap: I saw action at both power forward and small forward. I also worked against centers in defensive situations. There is no question that a lot of the skills you utilize in basketball are applied in football, particularly at tight end. Look back at the career of Tony Gonzalez at California. Things like using your hands, running, jumping, side-to-side movement, positioning and leverage.
Kiper: Tell me about your progression as a football player.
Heap: I was a QB on the freshman team in high school. That was the first year I played football. From my sophomore year on, with the varsity, I played tight end. Early on in high school, I checked in at about 6-3, 190 pounds. By my junior year, I was 6-4 and about 198. As a senior, I was 6-5 and right around 210. My first year at Arizona State, I weighed 217 pounds. I was up to 228 my second year, and played at around 238 to 240 this past season. As of yesterday, I weighed in at 252.
Kiper: How have felt at your current weight of 252 pounds?
Heap: I feel very comfortable at my current weight. In fact, I don't even notice the weight difference. I'm definitely stronger overall, yet have retained my speed and quickness.
Kiper: How did you manage to improve yourself physically in the last month?
Heap: I've been working out regularly every day, benefiting from the expertise and knowledge of Danny Everett, Joey Masiello and Kathy Sassin. Danny Everitt was a gold and bronze medalist in track during the Olympics in 1988. He runs the Santa Monica Track Club. Joey Masiello has been my strength and conditioning coach, working on my explosion, speed and quickness. In the past, Joey has worked with players such as Rob Moore, Kevin Dyson and Jason Taylor. Kathy Sassin of Intra Fit is a world class ultra-marathoner. She has worked with me on nutrition and eating habits. Because of Kathy, I've been able to put weight on properly.
Kiper: Tell me about your daily workout routine.
Heap: On a normal day, I get to the track at 9:30 a.m. where I work on running and conditioning. That goes until around 11:30. Then, I head over the gym where I work out with weights until 2. I will rest in the late afternoon, then lift more at night. In between all the workouts, I have a set eating schedule. My meals are staggered every three hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kiper: Currently, what are your computer numbers?
Heap: I'm 6-5, 252 pounds. I'll be looking to do between 20 and 25 bench-press reps at 225 pounds. My 40 times should be in the 4.58 to 4.62 range. I'll be looking to vertical between 33 and 36 inches.
Kiper: Growing up, which NFL team and players did you follow?
Heap: I watched and admired the skills of Jay Novacek catching the football. With the Cowboys, he was the pass-receiving tight end I really looked at.
Kiper: Do you have any preference in terms of where you would like to begin your NFL career?
Heap: No, I will play anywhere. I just want to do everything in my power to help the team win. That's what it's all about, winning the Super Bowl.