A hulk of defense
August 13, 2013
2013 Nevada football schedule
Aug. 31 at UCLA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 vs. UC Davis, 6:05 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Florida State, 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 vs. Hawaii, 5:05 p.m.
Sept. 28 vs. Air Force, 5:05 p.m.
Oct. 4 at San Diego State, 6 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Boise State, 5 p.m.
Oct. 26 vs. UNLV, TBA
Nov. 2 at Fresno State, TBA
Nov. 9 at Colorado State, TBA
Nov. 16 vs. San Jose State, TBA
Nov. 30 vs. BYU, 12:05 p.m.
Dec. 7 Mountain West Championship, TBA
Brock Hekking doesn't mind if you believe he's, shall we say, one part nasty, two parts crazy.
In fact he prefers it that way.
"It's an attitude," smiled the Nevada Wolf Pack defensive end.
It all starts with the hair.
"Actually it started off as a Brian Bosworth sort of thing," said Hekking, referring to the former Oklahoma Sooners linebacker of the 1980s. "I saw him interviewed on ESPN on one of those "30-for-30" shows about (the University of Miami). I just really liked his attitude and intensity. He was the type of guy who was going to come at you 100 miles an hour on every play. That's the way I want to play."
Hekking, though, has sort of taken his Boz haircut to another level.
"Yeah, it sort of turned into a mullet," said Hekking, who also sports a headband to complete the look.
The blond-haired Hekking also touches it up a bit.
"Yeah, I dye it a little," said Hekking, whose hair is more white than blond now. "But just a little."
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Hekking is sort of a cross between Bosworth, Hulk Hogan and an old Norse Viking. His name, after all, is Broderick Adrianus Hekking. Picture him with a giant spear and shield with horns coming out of his Wolf Pack helmet and, well, you get the idea.
Hekking, though, is more than a haircut and attitude.
"You see him with mullet and the do-rag and whatever and you might think he wants to be an individual," Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian said. "But he's not that way at all. He's a team-first type of guy.
"He has is own personality and I don't have a problem with that. He's a guy who loves football. He's total football. And he's the ultimate team player. Nobody on this team works harder than Brock Hekking."
Like his mullet, Hekking is all business up front to go along with a party in the back.
"He takes care of his business on and off the field doing what he's supposed to be doing, setting an example for his teammates," Polian said.
Hekking, who will turn 22-years-old in October, definitely set an example for his teammates last year. He finished third on the team with 75 tackles and first with 10 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. The Mountain West put him on its Second Team All-Conference team and this summer he was picked to the Pre-Season First Team.
"He leads this defense with his performance," Polian said. "That's how I want our leaders to lead, with the job they do on the field."
That's just fine with Hekking.
"I'm not a verbal leader," said Hekking, who graduated from Vacaville, Calif., High School. "I'm not a rah-rah guy. I want to lead by my performance.
Hekking has been with the Wolf Pack since his red-shirt freshman year of 2010. He got an opportunity to watch and learn from two of the Wolf Pack's greatest defensive lineman in school history in Dontay Moch and Brett Roy. Moch was a lightning-quick end who led by example and Roy was a bundle of energy from the kickoff to the final gun.
"Take Dontay and Brett Roy and mix them together and that's kind of who I am," Hekking said.
Last year was Hekking's breakout season. Roy left after the 2011 season and the Pack was forced to play a lot of young, wet-behind-the-ears defensive linemen. Hekking was one of those youngsters.
"Nobody knew what we could do," Hekking said. "Everybody was questioning if we could do the job. We used that as motivation."
Hekking had 7.5 sacks in the Pack's first seven games and the team went 6-1. He had just 2.5 sacks over the final six games as the Pack went 1-5.
"You can't ever be satisfied with what you've done," Hekking said. "I, personally, have higher standards than that."
He hasn't stopped working.
"Everyday in practice I go up against the best," Hekking said. "I go against (offensive tackle) Joel Bitonio because he's the best and I want to train against the best. Everyday I want to get better and that's why I go against him."
"Brock and I battle everyday," Bitonio said. "We fight everyday in drills. We make each other better."
Hekking's ultimate goal, though, is to not only make himself better.
"My main goal is for our defensive line to function as one," Hekking said. "It's not about one guy. We have to go out there and function as a clock with all the mechanisms dialed in. If teams want to focus on me, that's fine. That means someone else on our defensive line will get an opportunity to make a play."
Forget that haircut. Hekking is one defensive end who doesn't look for attention.
"If I go out there and get three sacks and we lose by 14 points, then those three sacks mean nothing," he said. "If I never get a sack and we win, then I will be thrilled.
"That Arizona game (a 49-48 bowl game loss in which the Pack allowed 14 points in the final 46 seconds) left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. I'm going to carry that with me through this season as motivation."
The haircut is also motivation.
"If you look good, you will play good," Hekking said. "That's what I believe."