NORFOLK, Va. - Taylor Heinicke's professors could have easy felt as though they were receiving a 'dog ate me homework' type of excuse when they received an email from the former ODU star quarterback, who told them the National Football League required his services.
While it sounds far-fetched, it was the situation Heinicke found himself in when the Washington Football Team was in need of a quarterback late in the 2020 season.
"I had heard of him before of course from when he played for ODU, but when he enrolled in the class, of course before he became really famous, I told him that for me real football is played with a sphere and not an oblate spheroid," said ODU Professor of Mathematics John Adam, who was one of Heinicke's professors during the fall semester. "I told him I wasn’t interested in American football at all."
After putting months of work into Number Theory, Partial Differential Equations, Applied Numerical Methods and Math in Nature classes, Heinicke had no choice but to "Email [professors], tell them the whole situation, ask if I could take [the final exams] after the season and they were pretty nice about it."
"When he emailed me to tell me he was called up there, I wished him all the best," Adam said. "I think, we all said you can have an incomplete under these circumstances provided, there’s a statute of limitations and they have to get the finished work in by a certain time, and in fact he got it in within a few weeks."
Within a few weeks Heinicke not only turned in finals, but also found himself going from practice squad 'quarantine quarterback' to Washington's postseason starting quarterback. He went head-to-head with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the Wild Card Round, throwing for over 300 yards, leading the team in rushing and scoring two touchdowns.
"My daughter said, 'Did you hear about Taylor Heinicke? Was he in your class?' I wrote to him after finding out what had gone on and congratulated him, and said I still don’t like American football, but well done. We're all very proud of him."
Heinicke has plenty to celebrate, because in addition to putting together a stellar playoff performance, he also passed his final exams.