The first thing you notice about Maurice Heims is he towers over most University of Washington defensive players.
He’s got an inch on the next tallest returning players on the Husky stop unit, fellow edge rushers Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Bralen Trice, and a couple of inches on those behind them, outside linebacker Jeremiah Martin and safety Asa Turner.
At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Heims was the tallest defender on the UW roster until Kalen DeBoer’s new coaching staff got recently got creative and moved the massive 6-foot-6, 355-pound Ulumoo Ale from offensive guard to defensive tackle .
However, Heims still holds one distinction over everyone else who pulls on a purple jersey and a gold helmet these days.
From Hamburg, Germany, he’s traveled the farthest to play Husky football – 4,900 miles.
No one has made a greater personal commitment to be part of this Pac-12 team than him.
In 2020, Heims moved to the US, specifically Southern California, to see if he could become a football standout after others watched him give the game a try in his European homeland and look overly impressive running around with that big frame of his.
He went two years without seeing his father until the older Heims hopped on a jet to visit his son as his first college season was coming to a close and likely because Jimmy Lake, Maurice’s original Husky coach, had been fired. The young German’s grandfather also passed away while he’s been stateside.
Heims presses on. He redshirted this past season and basically lived in the Husky weight room, adding pounds to his frame by him. In practice, he was seen taking leverage pointers from a then-injured Tupuola-Fetui and learning his trade of him. His football development by lui continues at a comfortable pace.
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Less than a month until spring practice, we’re offering intel and observations gathered on the UW football personnel in a series of stories on every scholarship player from No. 0 to 99. We’ll review each Husky’s previous starting experience, if applicable, and determine what comes next under DeBoer.
As is the case with any coaching change, it’s a new football beginning for everyone, including the Huskies’ No. 45.
The UW has a well-documented history of giving scholarships to German athletes who went on to excel at the highest level.
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A 6-foot-10 basketball swingman, Detlef Schrempf arrived from Leverkuson to play as a high schooler in Centralia, Washington, was offered a scholarship and became one of the greatest players in UW annals from 1982 to 1985. He twice was a first- team All-Pac-10 selection, was drafted as an NBA first-rounder and spent 17 seasons in the pros.
Next came the late Christian Welp. The basketball 7-footer likewise journeyed from Leverkuson to play the high school game in Silverdale, Washington. At the UW from 1984 to 1987, he was a three-time, first-team All-Pac-10 choice and named conference Player of the Year. An NBA first-rounder, he played four seasons before turning to a long European basketball career. He died in 2015 at age 51 from heart failure.
Well before that, Kurt Gegner moved to the US from the Black Forest region of Germany as a teenager and took up football at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, near the UW. After joining the Huskies as a walk-on player, he became a two-way starting tackle for Jim Owens-coached teams that earned consecutive Rose Bowl victories over Wisconsin in 1960 and Minnesota in 1961. As a Husky senior, he was named as an All-American ABC. Gegner died in 1981 from cancer at 43.
Now there is Heims, a modern-day import, busy learning his game.
He enrolled at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, which has foreign-exchange program with Germany, to get started in America. Yet as a transfer student, he forced to play his junior season with the junior varsity. His senior season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. He has yet to play in a significant game. Yet he is not alone in his football quest by him.
One of Heims’ Santa Margarita Catholic teammates, Hero Kanu, is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound edge rusher from Geltendorf, Germany, who will play at Ohio State on scholarship.
Heims has put on 15 pounds since arriving with many more to come. One of the priorities for DeBoer’s staff will be to take advantage of this intriguing prospect and get him ready to play as soon as possible.
UW Starter or Not: The immediate goal should be simply to get Heims into some games this season. He’s still undersized, still learning his position di lui, if not American football. But he’s one of those physical specimens who could morph into a starter over multiple seasons and live up to all that vast potential that’s been projected. Again, the UW has history of thriving with the German athlete.
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