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November 26, 2008
BeaverBlitz.com caught up with freshman punter Johnny Hekker at Tuesday's press conference in the Valley Football Center. After struggling early in the season, Hekker, who hails from Bothell, Washington, has made vast strides. He discussed everything from his craft to the team he grew up rooting for. And last but not least, we asked him his thoughts about this weekend's Civil War.
Beaver Blitz: What's been the biggest adjustment to putting full-time?
Johnny Hekker: The whole practice structure is different. With punting, I am just focusing on one aspect. Being a quarterback, you are running an offense and have a lot of different things you are working on. There's a lot more to the position.
BB: Did you ever expect to be a punter in college?
JH: In high school if you had asked me that, punting probably would have been the last thing I would have guessed, besides being a lineman. So I didn't really expect this.
BB: What has been the most enjoyable part of punting?
JH: Just getting to know everyone and being part of the team has been the best part?
BB: Compared to high school, is there a lot more that goes into punting in college?
JH: There's much more. In high school, you can just be the best athlete on the team and go out and kick the ball. Here, there's a lot more components to it. We have to worry about hang time, the distance and placing the ball. So it's definitely a lot more technical.
BB: Are itching for the coaching staff to call a fake punt so you can throw the ball again?
JH: I don't really think about that. But if they call a fake, we'll run it and I'll do my best.
BB: Off the field, what's been your favorite thing about Oregon State?
JH: Just hanging out with all the other freshman football players and getting to know new people. I like dorm life a lot. All the people on my floor are great.
BB: What are you majoring in?
JH: Pharmacy. I have just been taking some entry level courses right now, so it's not too difficult. But I expect things to ramp up over the next few terms, so it should be challenging, but I am ready for that.
BB: So in your rare free time, what do you enjoy doing?
JH: Playing X-box with the guys. We love Halo 3. We get on X-box Live and play with 5 or 6 guys online.
BB: Growing up, did you follow a college team?
JH: I was a Husky fan because it was part of the territory of which I grew up in. But I was excited when I was asked to walk-on here. I didn't really know what Oregon State had to offer until I did some research and things worked out. I am very happy to be here.
BB: Did you ever wonder if you would get the hang of punting after your early struggles?
JH: At the beginning of the season I had my doubts, but the coaches were loyal to me and told me to keep working hard do the things they told me to do and I improved. I am definitely a lot more comfortable back there.
BB: This will be your first Civil War. What's going through your head?
JH: It's a big game for both teams and we are both going to come out
ready to play. It will be a fun game. We're a good team, they're a good team.
I think it will be the best game in the nation by far.
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