RENO - Matt Hines was saddled with two things during his first season at Nevada - jersey No. 57 and the nickname Dump Truck, or Dump if you will.
Blame Craig Hopkins, Nevada's head of equipment operations, for one and Barry Sacks, special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach, for the other.
Hines is good-natured about both, and he has to be. He's endured the names for the past five years.
Sacks remembers the day Hines picked up his new nickname. It was at one of the first defensive meetings when Hines was a true freshman.
"He was sitting there with Jorge Cordova and Derek Kennard," Sacks said, smiling at the memory. "I remember thinking that he looks like a little dump; like a little dump truck."
And Hines, who at the time was 6-1 and 315, said the name fit him perfectly. You rarely hear teammates call him by his first name on the field.
In slang terms, Heinz 57 means a mixed breed of dog, also known as a mutt.
"When I first got here, I didn't want it," Hines said, referring to the No. 57. "It's been a good number, though. I think it was Craig (Hopkins) that did it. They usually send out a form asking what size you wear and give you an option of like six numbers. I don't even remember No. 57 even being on there."
Hopkins of course tried to play dumb originally when asked about it, but later spilled the beans.
"His brother Chris (former Nevada offensive lineman) wouldn't take it," Hopkins said. "With a name like that, you have to have it. It made him who he is today."
Hines has been anything but a mutt in his four-year career at Nevada. He was an all-WAC selection as a junior and served as team captain, and tomorrow he will play his last game at Mackay Stadium when the Pack meets Louisiana Tech in a game that could have bowl implications for the victor.
He has enjoyed a successful season with 42 tackles, 5.5 of those stops behind the line. The 42 tackles is a career best. It may not sound like much, but defensive tackles/nose guards aren't always big tackle guys. They are supposed to keep offensive linemen, enabling the linebackers to come in and make the stops.
"Looking back, I've had a good time," Hines said. "I've made a lot of close friends, and it's sad it's coming to an end. It seems like the time just flew by. Hopefully we can end it with a win. We don't want to be the senior class that doesn't go to a bowl. For a lot of us, this is going to be the last time.
"As far as the team goes, I wanted us to win one more WAC championship."
The Pack beat Fresno State 38-35 in November of 2005 at Mackay Stadium to earn a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with Boise State.
Hines played the bulk of the snaps and had only had a single tackle in the game, but it was the fact that he was a champion for the first time. Nevada went on to earn a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, knocking off Central Florida, 49-48, in overtime.
"That whole time, from winning that game until after the bowl game, I felt so good," he said. "I'd never won a championship in high school; never even made it to the playoffs. My brother and I used to joke that we were over-achieving losers.
"I play with a chip on my shoulder. It makes me work harder. I don't take anything for granted. It makes you work for everything you get."
Certainly you have to wonder how much more Hines could accomplish if he were a little taller. Hines never complains or makes excuses, though.
"The first thing, he doesn't know he's limited," defensive coordinator Ken Wilson said. "In his mind, he thinks he's 6-6 and 300 pounds.
"He's so strong. You don't have to be big to play nose guard or defensive tackle. You need to be strong and tenacious, and he is that."
The strength part of the equation is another result of countless hours in the weightroom.
Hines, who saw some spot duty as a true freshman, made a huge improvement between his freshman and sophomore year.
"I never thought I would develop into what I am today," Hines said. "Coach (Marty) Long was really pushing me. He helped me out a lot. He called me into his office and told me what he wanted me to do. He wanted me to lift more, jump rope and get more flexible. He told me if I did that, he could work with me."
Hines did exactly that. He dropped 30-plus pounds and got a lot more muscular. The Pillsbury Dough Boy days were gone for good. Sure Hines still has some excess poundage, but he's as strong as an ox.
The hard work that Hines has put in didn't go unnoticed by his teammates, either.
He was named one of the team's captains prior to his junior season, and he continued in that capacity this season. Hines is a true leader, because he puts the team first ahead of any individual goals or accomplishments.
"I think people see how hard I work; that I didn't go through the motions," Hines said. "Coming to Nevada, I wasn't a good football player. I just kept working."
Hines is an emotional player, and he said that he tries to get his teammates to play off that enthusiasm and fire.
"I wouldn't be here or be the player I am if I didn't play with a lot of emotion. That's who I am."
And, that's what makes him such a special player.
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
THE HINES FILE
Position: Defensive tackle
Height/weight: 6-1 285
Major: General Studies
THE DEPARTING SENIORS
NAG Matt Hines
LB Ezra Butler
ET Adam Bishop
DE Jay Dixon
LB Jeremy Engstrom
DE Nick Fuhr
DB Justin Jackson
OT Charles Manu
DT Brandon Walsh
WR Alex Rosenblum
WR Kyle Sammons
DB Shannon Sevor
DB Paul Pratt
DB Devon Walker
P Zachary Whited