OSU football: Hekker gaining attention from NFL scouts

2012-03-04T23:45:00Z OSU football: Hekker gaining attention from NFL scoutsBy CLIFF KIRKPATRICK, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Former Oregon State punter Johnny Hekker has been invited to the NFL Super Regional Combine to showcase his skills for scouts and coaches.

The event is a new way for college players to be scouted if they are not invited to the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and another option in addition to the traditional pro day workout at their college.

Hekker will show what he can do as a punter, and maybe as a kickoff specialist, on March 30-31 at Ford Field in Detroit. The event will be seen on the NFL Network and NFL.com.

“I’m really glad I have an opportunity to do this,” Hekker said. “I’ve been really busy, on the move working, trying to make it to the NFL.”

His journey began by signing up for one of the NFL Regional Combines, where athletes work out at NFL training facilities. There, Hekker’s raw numbers were collected and passed on to NFL evaluators. Invitations were then sent out to those the scouts wanted to see.

There were a few combines that dedicated time to punters and kickers. Hekker was in New Jersey a week ago at the Jets facility.

He punted, but didn’t work out with weights, run or jump like regular position players.

“I left some punts out there, but I felt I had a strong showing,” Hekker said. “All my directionals went where they should. I must have done well enough to get that invite, which was all I could want.”

Hekker continues to work on his kickoffs just to show that he can do that and be more versatile. He was also OSU’s holder on field goals and extra-points.

“I want to show better than what I’ve been doing with the kickoffs,” he said.

Hekker spent much of the winter in Alabama training with kicking coach Mike McCabe. He was in Arizona thos past weekend at a kicking combine run by Gary Zauner.

His next stop will be OSU’s pro day on March 16.

NFL Draft Scout ranks Hekker 19th out of 53 draft-eligible punters this year. He was honorable mention all-conference last season and finished sixth in the Pac-12 in average at 44.0 yards a punt.

Hekker had punts of 50-plus yards 17 times and 60-plus six times. He pinned 20 punts inside the 20-yard line and 11 inside the 10. He can conventional punt, rugby punt and has a flip punt that deadens the ball on impact with the ground.

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