With the Nevada WolfPack looking to change for the future by adding new talent and implementing a new defensive scheme, new defensive coach Scottie Hazelton has said that he intends on turning the Nevada defense’s scheme into a Tampa 2. The defense is very inexperienced and will have quite a few new faces lining up to take on opponents. Certainly, this defense needs a leader to look up to, to see how they play the game, to watch, to gain motivation from. That leader is none other than Brock Hekking, Nevada’s sack leader last season.
While head coach Brian Polian believes that defense is made by passion and energy, he doesn’t have to look very far to see how much Hekking brings to the defense. Last season, Hekking had a breakout season, recording eight sacks and ten tackles for a loss. Hekking is just scratching the surface. In 2012, the WolfPack had a pedestrian defense that let a lot of leads get away from them. During this year, Hekking was all over the field. He would help make group tackles, stop plays in the backfield, and disrupt lanes. He was the bright spot for that defense, and with numerous players from that defense now gone and young faces all around, Hekking has a chance to step up.
“Brock Hekking is a great example of what we’re looking for in this program,” Polian said. “With the died-blond mullet and do-rag a lot of people would look at him and say, ‘He wants to be an individual,’ where in reality he’s the ultimate team player. He works his tail off. He does everything you ask him to do. He practices really hard. He practices to win. He helps the young guys. Those are the guys we want.” Hekking can become one of the best defensive players Nevada has ever had on their roster, not only statistically, but to help lead these young defenders. Being a hard worker, the sky is the limit for Hekking.
Being a lethal pass rusher, Hekking will be depended on to get to the quarterback. In the Tampa 2, there are rarely blitzes, so the front four are counted on for pressure and hitting blocking lanes. The Tampa 2 is the ultimate team defense, which counts on gang tackling and the front four getting consistent pressure. Hekking’s motor is consistent and he goes 100% all the time, while the scary thing is he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. He’s raw and new to the position, but also knows that he has to improve. Over summer, he and Polian have met and Polian challenged him to become a great player rather than just a good one. Since then, Hekking has worked on learning the system and has also gone from a “C” student into an “A” and “B” student.
Scottie Hazelton is going to rely heavily on Hekking to get this defense going. In the past two scrimmages (Tuesday and Wednesday) Hekking has looked extremely good. On Wednesday, he recorded a safety, sack, and tackle for a loss. Now it’s not a smart idea to read too much into a scrimmage, Hekking is showing already that he is improved. In the first 7 games of the season, Hekking recorded 7 sacks, but wore down as the season went on. He played 95% of the defensive snaps, which is crazy to think about; especially with a motor always running. Hazelton intends to give Hekking some rest and keep his fresh throughout the season.
All the chips are in place to Brock Hekking to be the leader on defense. His immense potential and work ethic will allow this pure athlete to have a great season. Hekking will have opportunities to play against some good quarterbacks and offensive lineman, but he is also the most important player on this defense. If the front four fail to get pressure, the defense will fail overall. Pressure is on, but Hekking is taking everything in stride and will have a great season. In fact, Hekking could end up having the best year by a defensive lineman in Nevada WolfPack history. Brian Polian is building this team for the future, and the impact Hekking gives to this team could last for the future as well. Future students could look back and see what Hekking did in 2013, helping themselves improve the team. Just because he only has a short time on this team, the playing style he shows to these young players can flow through this program for years to come. As Polian has said to him, “You’re a really good football player and you can be a great one if you want to be.”. Hekking wants to be, and he has shown it this offseason, now it’s about time to transfer it to the field.