Nov. 1, 2000
Position: Off. Guard
Hometown: Katy, TX
High School: Katy
Question: What do an All-Pac-10 offensive lineman and an accomplished pianist have in common?
Answer: They are both one in the same. Junior Eric Heitmann, Stanford's 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman, who last season paved the way for the Cardinal to set single-season records for points scored (409), yards gained (5,138) and touchdowns (52), also spends much of his free time composing and performing music on either piano or synthesizer.
"My parents bought me a toy piano when I was about four," Heitmann recalls, "and I immediately started playing something like 'Happy Birthday.' The next day, they went out and got a real piano and started me on lessons."
From the humble roots of "Happy Birthday," Heitmann now can play anything a synthesizer will allow, from "songs with drums to heavy metal, from classical to new age." As for a favorite? The same guy who spends his fall Saturdays protecting the likes of Randy Fasani from beatings also enjoys mixing beats in his music and "creating a dance feel."
Heitmann is never at a loss for songs to play, as he has been composing his own music since age 11. Those efforts have resulted in a compilation of Heitmann's greatest hits, a compact disc that he put together through a computer sound card wired to his synthesizer. While his tunes may not yet be ready for the Billboard charts, composing and performing are close to Heitmann's heart.
"Making music is definitely a wonderful thing," he says. "Any free chance I get, I try to sit down and write."
Many opposing pass rushers would probably rather attend a Heitmann concert than face him on the field. After playing in all 11 games in a reserve role as a freshman in 1998, Heitmann stepped into the starter's role as a sophomore last season and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 honors. His talent on the offensive line was a big reason why the Cardinal amassed 1,690 yards on the ground in 1999, doubling its rushing output from the previous year. Three preseason publications dubbed him a First Team All-Pac-10 performer in 2000, and Street & Smith's listed him as an Honorable Mention All-America selection.
The Cardinal has been almost as effective on the ground again in 2000, averaging 144.6 yards per game (compared to 153.6 last season).
Stanford Athletics Highlights:
|Has played in all 31 games possible during his Stanford career and started the last 20 in a row ... A key blocker in Stanford's 1690 rushing yards during his sophomore season in 1999, double the team's total from the previous season ... Named a preseason First Team All-Pac-10 selection by three publications ... Selected a preseason Honorable Mention All-American by Street & Smith's.|
Despite past triumphs and future promise, Heitmann remains a humble player dedicated to team goals. "I think that individual success comes along with team success," he says. "If you can help your team out, then individual merit will come."
On the field or composing music, Heitmann will always regard his time on The Farm as a special experience.
"Stanford has been really great for me, especially through the friendship standpoint," says Heitmann. "I have built so many great relationships with my teammates, it is really a great feeling to know that 90 guys are some of your best friends in the world."
With his talent and dedication, Eric Heitmann could well indeed become the first NFL All-Pro pianist.
by Matt Hodson