Wimberly eyes coaching, NFL career
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO — Brandon Wimberly is already thinking about his future.
“Coaching,” the Wolf Pack senior wide receiver said Tuesday. “I’ve built a lot of bonds with people who are now coaching. Hopefully somebody might hire me to be a wide receivers coach.”
Wimberly will play his final college game Saturday afternoon (12:05 p.m.) at Mackay Stadium when the Wolf Pack hosts the BYU Cougars. He has caught 251 passes as a Wolf Pack player for 2,932 yards and has caught at least one pass in all 51 games of his career.
Coaching could be his next step.
“I would like to teach other guys how to play the game,” he said. “I think I have a lot to offer from the things I’ve gone through. I’ve been blessed and have been very lucky. I also think I could be a valuable asset recruiting. I feel I can see talent in guys.”
Wimberly, though, has one other career aspiration.
“Hopefully next year I will be getting paid to play,” said Wimberly, referring to a possible NFL career. “I have high hopes of playing in the NFL. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll pursue coaching.”
HENDERSON STILL LEARNING: Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian said wide receiver Hasaan Henderson is still a work in progress.
The red-shirt freshman, who made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver last spring, had a breakout game against Fresno State on Nov. 2 when he caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up a week later at Colorado State with 10 catches for 110 yards. Last week, though, he caught just three passes for 14 yards against San Jose State.
“He has trained more as a runner than a receiver,” Polian said. “He can run fast. He’s just one of those guys that he needs to build up to it a little bit. We have to get him going a little more with quick twitch muscles so he can get off the ball a little faster. Once he does that he’s going to be really, really good.”
Henderson has 24 catches this year for 281 yards and one touchdown.
“You can train those things (quick twitch muscles),” Polian said. “You’ll never make him great at it. A lot of that is God-given ability. But you can make him significantly better at it. You can train those muscles to fire a little bit faster.”
STINGY BYU DEFENSE: The Wolf Pack might have to beat BYU with fewer than 30 points. BYU, after all, has allowed an average of just 21.2 points a game this season.
The Wolf Pack has won just three games with fewer than 30 points since Sept. 29, 2007.
Those three victories were 17-14 at San Jose State on Sept. 17, 2011, 20-13 over Boston College on Jan. 9, 2011 and 27-13 at BYU on Sept. 25, 2010.
The Pack has won just seven games with fewer than 30 points since former coach Chris Ault implemented the pistol offense for the start of the 2005 season, a span of 115 games.
SENIOR DAY: The Wolf Pack will recognize its 17 seniors Saturday in the final game of the season. Just three of the seniors, though, are starters on offense or defense: offensive tackle Joel Bitonio, guard Fred Lavulo and Wimberly. Defensive tackle Jack Reynoso has also been a starter at times during his career. Punter Chase Tenpenny and punt returner Joe Huber are also among the seniors playing their final game.
Bitonio leads all Pack players with an active streak of 37 consecutive starts going into Saturday’s game. He is the only offensive lineman to start all 11 games this season.
“Right off the bat when I came here in January, Joel Bitonio welcomed me and made me feel comfortable,” Pack offensive line coach Ron Hudson said. “As good as he is, he humbled himself right away and told me, ‘Coach, what can I do to get better?’ He’s done a great job of taking coaching. He just embraced what we wanted to do this year.”
“I’ve been thinking of this game a lot,” Bitonio said. “It’s exciting to move on to the next step in life. But it’s bittersweet, too. It’s definitely going to be emotional for sure.”
Reynoso is also looking forward to Saturday.
“It won’t really hit me until I get down on that field and walk out with my family at my side,” he said.
Wimberly, who joined the Wolf Pack in 2008, joked about his final game.
“I’m kind of excited for it to be winding down,” he said. “I’ve been here long enough.”
This will actually be Wimberly’s second Senior Day. He went through the ceremony last year before getting an extra year of eligibility after the season.
“It will be emotional but it doesn’t mean I will break down and cry,” Wimberly said.
VAN NOY RETURNS HOME: BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy will make his first appearance at Mackay Stadium on Saturday against the Wolf Pack since he helped McQueen High win the Nevada state football championship in 2008. McQueen and Van Noy beat Palo Verde 13-12 on Dec. 6, 2008 at Mackay.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Van Noy has 58 tackles this year to go along with four sacks, two interceptions and 15 tackles for a loss. He had three sacks against Georgia Tech, returned an interception for a touchdown against Utah State, had eight tackles and a sack against Texas and eight tackles and an interceptions against Wisconsin.
Last year he had 13 sacks and 22 tackles for a loss. In BYU’s win over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl he returned a fumble and an interception for a touchdown. He also had eight tackles, blocked a punt and forced a fumble in the game.
After his standout performance in the bowl game, Van Noy was projected to be selected in the first few rounds of the NFL draft but decided instead to return to BYU for his senior year.
“He’s a very skilled player,” Polian said. “He makes special plays as an athlete.”
BY THE NUMBERS: Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo needs 98 passing yards against BYU to reach 7,000 for his career. Just seven Wolf Pack quarterbacks in history have throw for 7,000 or more yards . . . Brandon Wimberly needs 68 receiving yards to become the seventh Wolf Pack receiver with 3,000 in his career . . . Wimberly’s 251 career receptions is third in school history behind Trevor Insley (298) and Geoff Noisy (295) . . . Linebacker Jonathan McNeal needs six tackles to reach 100 on the season . . . Punter Chase Tenpenny is currently tied with Armando Avina for the top career punting average in school history at 43.8 yards . . . Wolf Pack running backs have just three 100-yard games this season (Kendall Brock has two and Chris Solomon has one). It is the fewest number of 100-yard games in a Wolf Pack season by the running backs since 2000 when Marquis Starks had the only 100-yard rushing game by a Pack running back.