The name Broderick Adrianus Hekking sounds like it was formed in the heavens with lightning bolts and thunder.
And that’s exactly how he plays football.
“He hasn’t even scratched the surface of how good he can be,” Nevada Wolf Pack defensive line coach Barry Sacks said.
Hekking, who goes by the name of Brock, is indeed the thunder and lightning of the Wolf Pack defense. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end has six sacks in the Pack’s first five games and ranks 15th in the nation with 1.2 sacks a game.
“I’m happy but I’m not satisfied yet though,” Hekking said. “I have to keep pushing, keep grinding.”
Hekking, who played in 11 games last season as a red-shirt freshman in a backup role and had seven tackles, has stepped right in this year to fill the void left by the departure of Brett Roy. Roy had 10 sacks last year as a senior.
“The thing about Brock this is he’s learn how to practice better,” Sacks said. “That’s still a process that isn’t fully complete yet but he’s done a much better job this year. By learning how to practice he’s been able to play the game a lot faster and he’s seeing things at a much better tempo.”
Hekking is already on his way to making history. He has had two sacks in each of the Pack’s last two games against Texas State and Hawaii to become just the second Wolf Pack player since 2000 to have at least two sacks in consecutive games. The only other Pack player to do it since 2000 was Dontay Moch against Utah State and Hawaii in 2008,
The name of Moch, who is now with the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL, has come up frequently this season when Hekking has been discussed.
“He is somewhat like Dontay Moch,” Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said. “He’s got that quickness and that kind of speed. He’s a good pass rusher and he can use that speed to do some things.”
Hekking is fast but there was only one Dontay Moch, Sacks said.
“He’s obviously not Dontay Moch,” Sacks said. “Moch was extremely explosive and was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But Brock is fast. He can be like Dontay at times. He has that in his game.”
Sacks, though, added that Hekking is a better run defender than Moch. Hekking leads all Wolf Pack defensive linemen this season with 24 tackles.
“Brock is a very strong run defender,” Sacks said. “He’s still a work in progress but he’s a solid run defender and he’s getting better.”
Hekking, who played at 245 pounds last year, added 15 pounds this past off-season.
“It’s just nice to be playing, finally,” said Hekking, who had 13 sacks his senior year at Vacaville (Calif.) High in 2009. “But I’m still young and we’re a young defensive line and we still have a lot more to prove.”
Hekking is on pace this season for 15 sacks. The Wolf Pack’s season record for sacks, since the NCAA has recognized sacks as an official statistic in 2000, is 11.5 by Moch in 2008 and Jorge Cordova in 2003. Henry Rolling, though, had 15.5 sacks in 1986 for the Pack.
NO TOUCHDOWNS FOR WIMBERLY: Wolf Pack wide receiver Brandon Wimberly has now gone 19 consecutive games without catching a touchdown pass.
The 6-foot-3 senior’s last touchdown catch was in the Hawaii Bowl after the 2009 season against SMU from quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Since that game he’s caught 71 passes without a touchdown.
“I’m still trying to get him his first touchdown,” smiled Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo. “I screwed up on one down by the goal line (against Texas State) so I told him I was going to make up for it and every time he was deep and open I was going to him.”
Wimberly, who missed the entire 2011 season with an injury, caught 41 passes in 2010 without a score and has 30 catches this year without visiting the end zone. Since 2000, there have been just two other Wolf Pack wide receivers to catch at least 20 passes in a season without at least one of them ending up in the end zone. Mike Crawford caught 42 passes in 2000 without a touchdown and Dan Bythwood had 21 catches in 2001 without scoring.
Since Wimberly last caught a touchdown pass against SMU in 2009, Wolf Pack quarterbacks have tossed 49 touchdown passes to 16 different players. Seldom used players such as Courtney Randall, Nick Hale, Malcolm Shepherd, Kendall Brock, Corbin Louks and Joe Huber all have caught a touchdown pass since Wimberly got into the end zone against SMU.
Wimberly, though, has gotten close. Very close.
The closest was against Fresno State in 2010 when he caught a 19-yard pass from Kaepernick and went out of bounds at the 1-yard line. In that same game he also caught a 16-yard pass down to the 4-yard line.
The closest Wimberly has gotten to the end zone this year was the 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter against California after catching a 19-yard pass from Fajardo. He also caught a 14-yard pass to the 5-yard line against Northwestern State.
In addition to his two catches inside the 5-yard line against Fresno State in 2010, Wimberly also had six other catches that season to the 10-yard line or closer to the end zone.
“It’s not a big thing to me,” said Wimberly, who caught six touchdowns passes in 2009 when he was named the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year. “I mess around with the guys and say, ‘Yeah, I need a touchdown.’ But as long as the team is winning and I’m doing my part to make that happen, I’m fine.”
Odds are, Wimberly will get in the end zone more than once before this season is complete.
“He’s a guy I like throwing to,” Fajardo said. “He’s a big body.”
Wimberly has been a big contributor to the Wolf Pack success this season, gaining 390 yards on his 30 catches. He has 124 catches in his career for 1,605 yards. He’s on pace to become just the 14th Wolf Pack player in history with 2,000 or more receiving yards in his career.
“I feel like I’ve played better,” Wimberly said. “But there’s always room for improvement. With this new offense, we’re just waiting and letting it build.”
HARDISON HONORED BY MOUNTAIN WEST: Wolf Pack placekicker Allen Hardison was named the Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday. The senior kicked field goals from 24 and 41 yards out in the 34-21 win at Texas State and also was successful on all four of his extra points.
“It’s a good honor,” Hardison said. “But I tribute it to all of the guys that work with me. A field goal is a team effort.”
Hardison is the first Pack player to be named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week since Jake Hurst won it in the Western Athletic Conference last season for kicking eight extra points in a 56-3 win over Idaho on Dec. 3.
“He’s got a big-time leg,” Ault said. “He’s one of the best placekickers we’ve had here.”