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Johnny Robert Hekker (born February 8, 1990), is an American football punter for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Oregon State. He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Hekker is a four-time First Team All-Pro and four-time Pro-Bowler. He holds the NFL record for longest punt in Super Bowl history, with a 65-yarder that he delivered in Super Bowl LIII.

Johnny Hekker
refer to caption
Hekker with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016
No. 6 – Los Angeles Rams
Position:Punter
Personal information
Born: (1990-02-08) February 8, 1990 (age 29)
Redmond, Washington
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:241 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school:Bothell (Bothell, Washington)
College:Oregon State
Undrafted:2012
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 10, 2018
Punts:524
Punting yards:24,551
Average punt:46.9
Longest punt:78
Inside 20:208
Player stats at NFL.com

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Hekker attended Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington and graduated in 2008.[1] He was the starting quarterback of the Cougars football team during his senior year, leading them to a State Championship game, which they lost.

College careerEdit

Hekker played for the Oregon State Beavers football team while attending Oregon State University.[2] In 2008, Hekker was named the Sun Bowl Special Teams MVP after averaging 45 yards on 10 punts, including boots of 57 and 52 yards in the fourth quarter of a 3–0 win for the Beavers over the Pitt Panthers.[3] He was a four-year starter and finished his college career as one of Oregon State's most prolific punters. As a Beaver, he set a single-game school record with a 52.5 average (six punts for 315 yards) against the Utah Utes in 2011.[4]

Hekker ranked third-best in career-punt yardage in school history with a solid 41.3 yards average per punt.[5] In 2011, he earned College Football Performance Award Punter of the Week and was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List – given annually to the nation's best punter. In 2009, he was semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award and the Phil Steele All-Pac-10 Second Team. As a senior, Hekker recorded a total of 52 career punts over 50 yards, including 17 when he had six different games with at least one punt of 60+ yards.

Hekker earned Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention with 87 career punts downed inside the 20-yard line in 2011.[clarification needed] He also had at least one punt of 50+ yards in every game but one in 2010.

Hekker had several memorable kicks as a Beaver. One was the second-longest punt in school history. The punt went for 74 yards in 2010 against USC.[6] Another was a negative-yardage punt when he shanked the ball for a loss of 4 yards.[7]

For three years, Hekker also worked as the holder on placekicks.

Professional careerEdit

2012 seasonEdit

In 2012, Hekker was signed as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams.[8]

In Week 2, Hekker was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week after recording 3 punts, 165 yards, and a 48.7 net punt average, with the longest punt being 66 yards.[9]

In Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks, Hekker threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola on a fake field goal. He became the first Rams punter to throw a touchdown pass since the AFL-NFL merger.[10][11]

In Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, he set a Rams franchise record with a gross punting average of 56.9 in one game, beating the old mark of 56.0 set by Donnie Jones on three other occasions. He recorded 7 punts for 398 yards in the game, placing three of his punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He had two punts of 60 plus yards.[12][13] In doing so, he stopped Patrick Peterson from returning a punt for a touchdown against St. Louis, as he did in both rivalry games last season. Hekker was again nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.

In Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, Hekker converted on two fake punt passes for 40 yards, while having 4 punts with a 31-yard average and placing one of his punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line in a 24-all draw.[14] Hekker was again nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.[15]

Overall, in the 2012 season, Hekker had 82 punts for 3,756 net yards for a 45.8 average.[16]

2013 seasonEdit

On December 29, 2013, Hekker officially broke the single season record for net punt yards (44.2), previously held by Andy Lee (44) in 2006 for the San Francisco 49ers.[17] Overall, in the 2013 season, Hekker had 78 punts for 3,609 net yards for a 46.27 average.[18]

2014 seasonEdit

On October 19, 2014, Hekker threw a pass to running back Benny Cunningham on a fake punt with 1:14 left in a game against the Seattle Seahawks.[19][20]

On December 5, 2014, Hekker agreed to a six-year, $18 million contract extension with the St. Louis Rams, $9 million of which was guaranteed. Hekker's deal is the largest contract ever given to a punter.[21]

Overall, in the 2014 season, Hekker finished with 80 punts for 3,721 net yards for a 46.51 average.[22]

2015 seasonEdit

On December 27, 2015, early in the second quarter of a game between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks, Hekker was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness for shoving Cliff Avril after a 45-yard punt. Later in the game, Hekker dropped to the ground when he thought Michael Bennett was going to hit him as retaliation. Bennett later said that Hekker acted "like a little girl" in a post game interview.[23][24]

In the 2015 season, Hekker again led the league in net punting average[25][26] and was named as an All-Pro by the Associated Press for the second time.

2016 seasonEdit

In 2016, Hekker set NFL records for punts downed inside the 20 (51), had only one touchback, and broke his own record for net punting yardage (46.0). Some speculated his performance ranked as the greatest punting season ever.[27] Hekker was named to his third Pro Bowl and his third First-team All-Pro.[28] Overall, in the 2016 season, Hekker finished with 98 punts for 4,680 net yards for a 47.76 average.[29]

2017 seasonEdit

On September 11, 2017, Hekker signed a two-year contract extension with the Rams through the 2022 season.[30] In a Week 2 game against the Washington Redskins, Hekker recorded a 28-yard pass to Josh Reynolds on a successful fake punt.[31] On December 19, 2017, Hekker was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.[32] Overall, in the 2017 season, Hekker finished with 65 punts for 3,113 net yards for a 47.89 average.[33]

The Rams finished the season with an 11–5 record and made the playoffs. In his playoff debut, Hekker had five punts for 218 net yards for a 43.6 average in the 26–13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round.[34]

2018 seasonEdit

In Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, Hekker (normally the holder) had to take placekicking duties when placekicker Greg Zuerlein was injured. He converted one extra point and one field goal in the 34–0 victory.[35] In the second quarter of a Week 9 contest against New Orleans, Hekker ran three yards on a fake field goal attempt, but was ruled a yard short of the first down marker in a 45–35 loss. During the season, Hekker also completed two of four pass attempts for 19 yards on fake punt attempts, with both completions leading to first downs for the Rams. In 2018, Hekker punted a career-low 43 times for 1,992 yards (46.3 average), and only once punted more than four times in any game due to the Rams' prolific offense. Hekker missed Pro Bowl and first team All-Pro honors for the first time since 2014.[36]

In the playoffs, the Rams defeated both the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round and New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game. In the NFC Championship Game against the Saints with Rams down 13–0 early in the second quarter, Hekker ran a fake punt and threw a 12 yard pass to Sam Shields to get a first down and put the Rams in position to get their first points of the game.[37] Playing against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, Hekker set a Super Bowl record with a 65-yard punt, breaking the record set by the Patriots' Ryan Allen, who Hekker competed with at Oregon State. The Rams went on to lose the Super Bowl 13-3 as Hekker punted 9 times for 417 yards.

NFL recordsEdit

Super Bowl recordsEdit

  • Most punts in a Super Bowl: 9
  • Longest punt in a Super Bowl: 65 yards

Media appearancesEdit

For season 2 of the Netflix cooking show Nailed It, Hekker was a guest judge.[38]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Wyrwich, Tom (November 30, 2007). "4A Football – A team and a QB grow in Bothell". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  2. ^ "Johnny Hekker College Stats". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Sun Bowl – Pitt vs Oregon State Box Score, December 31, 2008". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "Oregon State at Utah Box Score, October 29, 2011". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  5. ^ "Oregon State Beavers Punting". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  6. ^ "Johnny Hekker's 74-yard punt and role in a fake prove key in Oregon State's defeat of USC". OregonLive.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  7. ^ GideeshFilms (September 10, 2011). "Negative yard punt by Oregon state vs Wisconsin". Retrieved September 14, 2017 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Rams have their own 'cheat code' with punter Johnny Hekker". ESPN.com. December 17, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "Hekker's 66-yard punt". NFL.com. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  10. ^ "K Hekker to WR Amendola, 2-yd, pass, TD, 4th down conversion". NFL.com. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  11. ^ "Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams – September 30th, 2012". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  12. ^ "Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams – October 4th, 2012". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  13. ^ "Pepsi Rookie of the Week". www.nfl.com. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers – November 11th, 2012". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  15. ^ "Pepsi Rookie of the Week". www.nfl.com. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "Johnny Hekker 2012 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  17. ^ Miklasz, Bernie (December 30, 2013). "Hekker sets NFL punting record". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  18. ^ "Johnny Hekker 2013 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  19. ^ Seattle Times staff (October 19, 2014). "Johnny Hekker pass on fake punt keeps Seahawks offense off the field". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams – October 19th, 2014". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  21. ^ "Rams punter Johnny Hekker nets record contract extension". Sporting News. December 5, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  22. ^ "Johnny Hekker 2014 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  23. ^ Gordon Dixon/Larry Brown (December 27, 2015). "Seahawks say Rams' punter Johnny Hekker acted 'like little girl'". Yardbarker. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  24. ^ "St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks – December 27th, 2015". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  25. ^ "2015 NFL Kicking & Punting". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  26. ^ "National Football League Stats - by Player Position - NFL.com". www.nfl.com. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  27. ^ Michael David Smith (December 6, 2016). "Rams' Johnny Hekker having the greatest punting season ever". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  28. ^ "Three rookies, Matt Ryan among players named to All-Pro team". NFL.com. January 6, 2017.
  29. ^ "Johnny Hekker 2016 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  30. ^ Knoblauch, Austin (September 11, 2017). "Johnny Hekker agrees to 2-year extension with Rams". NFL.com.
  31. ^ "Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams – September 17th, 2017". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  32. ^ "NFL announces 2018 Pro Bowl rosters". NFL.com. December 19, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  33. ^ "Johnny Hekker 2017 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  34. ^ "Wild Card – Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams – January 6th, 2018". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  35. ^ "No Greg The Leg, no problem: Rams turn to Hekker and 2-point conversions". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  36. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HekkJo00.htm
  37. ^ "WATCH: Rams punter Johnny Hekker completes fake punt pass". SI.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  38. ^ Morabito, Greg (June 30, 2018). "The New Season of Netflix's 'Nailed It! Is So Much More Than Funny Cake Fails". Eater. Retrieved January 24, 2019.

External linksEdit