As a wide receiver for the McDonogh football team, Darrius Heyward-Bey used to help light up the scoreboard. Now the former NFL first-round draft pick will help his alma mater light up the football field.
Heyward-Bey, a 2005 McDonogh graduate, has donated money to pay for stadium lights at the private school in Owings Mills.
“On every level, night games are exciting,” Heyward-Bey said in a statement on McDonogh's website. “Young players dream of playing under the lights, but the reality is that 95 percent of athletes don’t play after high school. I’m glad McDonogh football players will now have that opportunity.”
Known for his speed, the former All-Metro second-team receiver went on to play at Maryland and was the Oakland Raiders' first pick in in the 2009 draft.
During his senior year, he asked McDonogh athletic director Mickey Deegan why there weren't lights at the stadium. When Deegan explained the lights were expensive, Heyward-Bey -- still years away from going pro -- made a promise.
"He put his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘Ms. Deegan, when I go pro, I’m going to buy you some lights … because night games are what high school football is all about,’” Deegan said in a statement.
Heyward-Bey played four season with the Raiders before joining the Indianapolis Colts last season. He signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers this month.
In five NFL seasons, Heyward-Bey has caught 169 passes for 2,380 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best season came in 2011, when he caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns.
He was an All-Metro first-team pick for track and field as a junior and senior at McDonogh.