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Francis Howell lineman poised for big season

By: Jonathan Duncan


Francis Howell offensive tackler Drake Heismeyer [right] will lead the Vikings offensive line. [Jennifer Heismeyer photo]

Whether he was blocking and opening holes for Gideon Niboh or protecting the blindside of quarterback Aidan McDaniel, Francis Howell offensive lineman Drake Heismeyer was a key building block for the Vikings’ success on the football field in 2018.

Heismeyer is a 6-foot-4-inch and 295-pound senior-to-be who has played center and tackle for the Vikings the past two years and will be leaned on again in the fall to help drive the team’s offensive line.

Howell coach Brent Chojnacki praised Heismeyer as an elite talent on the Vikings o-line.

“The big thing with Drake that makes him elite is just his athleticism,” Chojnacki said. “I haven’t seen an offensive lineman move that way in a long time. That’s the biggest thing when you watch him run a 5.4 flat 40 [yard dash] and being able to jump 33 and a half feet and bench press 495 pounds, that’s what really does it for him.”

Currently rated as one of the top prep offensive linemen in the country last season, Heismeyer plans to pursue football at the University of Missouri in the spring.

Heismeyer was also heavily recruited by about 20 Division I Power-five conference different schools. In addition to the University of Missouri, he received offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan State and Purdue.

It was during his official visit in March that Heismeyer said the Tigers won him over.

“…Coach [Barry] Odom and Coach [Brad] Davis did a really good job of recruiting me and making me feel at home,” Heismeyer said. “I built a really good relationship with them. They are really easy to talk to and really good coaches and they just really showed me some good love.”

Since last fall, Heismeyer has been busy working on conditioning and agility training several days a week at Elite Football Academy in Chesterfield.

“I got there a couple of time a week to work on ones, pass pro [protection] and run blocking drills, and I’ve been working out a lot with the team,”¬†Heismeyer said.

During the past two weeks, Heismeyer and the Vikings have been working Monday through Friday in non-contact mini-camps at Howell to refine skills and get in playbook work in before fall drills begin in mid-August.

“We have these two weeks, and then after that, we will have morning workouts until the fourth of July,” Heismeyer said. “We have been working on [line] stunts and position drills. Things like that.”

Heismeyer’s biggest focus for his senior year on the field is to improve his explosiveness off the ball before it is snapped.

“Playing-wise, I’ve been trying to work on my first-step”punch” and my speed off the ball really,” Heismeyer said. “We work off a two-point stance. So, speed off the ball and throwing my punch real hard is really what I’m trying to work on and improve.”

In college, Heismeyer is projected to be a center at the University of Missouri. However, for his upcoming senior season at Francis Howell, he is slated to play again at tackle as he did for the Vikings last year.

“He’s going to play continue to play left tackle for us,” Chojnacki said. “I think Mizzou really likes him at center and he’s prepared to play center if we need him to. He’s a guy we can always throw down there in there and he knows how to snap and he’s prepared to play center if we need him to.”

More importantly, Heismeyer is looking forward to helping the Vikings o-line and team improve after last year’s 7-4 season that ended with a loss in Class 6, District 2 semifinals to Columbia Rock Bridge.

“We’ve got three returning starters this year and some younger guys that look pretty promising,” Heismeyer said. “I think we [can] have a good run and I’m looking forward to it.”

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