Francis Howell senior Drake Heismeyer hit the weight room back on Jan. 7 determined to get stronger, faster and add some weight.
The highly recruited left tackle succeeded in his mission.
The 6-foot-4 Heismeyer enters the 2019 season at 295 pounds, up from about 280 last season. As a junior, Heismeyer helped the Vikings pile up 4,088 yards of total offense and score 55 touchdowns.
With the added muscle and more speed, Heismeyer wants to help the offense be even more production this fall.
“I have put on a lot of good weight,” Heismeyer said. “Last year, I dropped weight over the season and I wanted to put it back on. I didn’t want to just get heavier. It wanted it be the right kind of weight.
“I’m heavy enough but light enough to move pretty quick. I’m really excited about this season. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Francis Howell coach Brent Chojnacki, in his second year at the helm, saw Heismeyer’s dedication and determination as something the other Vikings emulated.
“Drake is a phenomenal kid,” Chojnacki said. “He’s totally dedicated to the game of football. He loves it. He knew that hard work in the offseason will make him good this season and at the next level. His passion sets him apart.
“He just worked his butt off in the offseason. He showed Jan. 7 and never stopped. He’s in early and he stays late. You can’t get rid of him.”
Left tackle is an important position on the offensive line. It provides protection for the quarterback’s blind side. It’s important for the run game.
It’s a position made for Heismeyer, who also plays nose guard on defense.
“I really like what I do. Being a left tackle is one of the most important positions on the offensive line and I take pride in playing it,” Heismeyer said. “I love to hit people. I love blocking. I get to smack people.
“I love going downhill and steamrolling people.”
Heismeyer likes both run and pass blocking equally.
“I’m probably better at pass blocking. I have quick feet,” Heismeyer said. “Lateral speed is a big thing to have at tackle. I think my foot and lateral speed are above average. My goals this is year are to keep working on my speed off the ball.
“I want to dominate someone will be playing across from me.”
Heismeyer is the total package, Chojnacki said.
“Guys that size should not be able to move as well as he does. He runs a just over a 5 (second) 40,” Chojnacki said. “The way he moves with his size is his biggest asset. He really gets off the line in a hurry.
“He doesn’t do cheap shots. He really finishes guys off . I think he’s really developed. He’s a better run blocker right now. Not too many guys who will beat Drake off the edge.”
Injuries thrust Heismeyer into a starting role as a freshman. Playing right tackle in games and working against upperclassmen toughed him up quickly.
It was learning on the job and Heismeyer soaked it up like a sponge.
“I had a huge learning curve,” Heismeyer said. “Guys got hurt and I got pulled up. I got smacked around by the varsity guys but I got tougher.
“It worked our really well. I moved my junior year to left tackle and I was fine with it. That’s where I was needed. I can play both sides.”
The Vikings have three returning starters this season on the line and three underclassmen fighting for two positions.
Heismeyer believes this team can have a season to remember.
“We all like to work and have fun,” Heismeyer said. “We love to play together. I’ve played with a lot of these guys since the sixth grade. We want to have a good year.”
The season begins with two home games for Francis Howell. The Viking open with a 7 p.m. home game Friday (Aug. 30) against Fort Zumwalt North. That will be followed by a 7 p.m. Sept. 6 game against Kirkwood.
“Our first two games are pretty tough,” Heismeyer said. “If we get through them with two wins, I think we can go a long ways. Those are two really good teams.”
Chojnacki likes hearing that. He wants Heismeyer focused on this season.
“He approaches practice and the time we have with him seriously,” Chojnacki said. “That tells you how much he loves football. He’s not looking ahead to college. He’s working harder than ever. He looking forward to his senior year.”
Heismeyer has given Missouri a verbal commitment. He is excited about that when he moves on to play in college.
“It was a really big thing for me to play in home state and play before my family and friends,” Heismeyer said. “Coach (Barry) Odom is easy to talk to. (Offensive line) coach Brad Davis is a good guy and he started recruiting me between my sophomore and junior year. They are both like family to me now.”
Heismeyer said he took about 20 visits to colleges ranging from Alabama to Michigan to Iowa State. Among the schools that offered scholarships were Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa State, Kansas State, and others.
When it came down to decision time, he chose Missouri.
“The thing I learned about is that everyone has nice facilities,” Heismeyer said. “To me it’s the people and the coaches. I’m a big people guy. That’s how Mizzou stood out to me.”
Heismeyer has a GPA of 3.5. He also throws the shot and discus in track.
“I play ping pong,” Heismeyer said. “I’m pretty good. But my life revolves around football. I’m always doing something football.”
His dad, Eric, played tight end at North Dakota State. His mother Jennifer and older brother Aric, who played football for a couple of years at Washburn, are all happy for him.
“They’re my biggest fans,” Heismeyer said.
So is Chojnacki.
“He’s absolutely a great kid,” Chojnacki said. “His PE teacher told came to me and told me how every day Drake went out of his way to help a special needs kid in PE. That’s what kind of kid he is. He does what’s best.
“He’s a good a guy as I want to represent my football program and the entire school. The only way he’s going to get into trouble if he runs to fast to the buffet line.”