Hekker with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016
|No. 6 – Los Angeles Rams|
|Born:||February 8, 1990|
|Height:||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight:||241 lb (109 kg)|
|High school:||Bothell (Bothell, Washington)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 10, 2018|
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.
Hekker attended Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington and graduated in 2008. He was the starting quarterback of the Cougars football team during his senior year, leading them to a State Championship game, which they lost. He also briefly played basketball for the school in his senior year.
Hekker played for the Oregon State Beavers football team while attending Oregon State University. 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. 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.
Hekker ranked third-best in career-punt yardage in school history with a solid 41.3 yards average per punt. 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. Another was a negative-yardage punt when he shanked the ball for a loss of 4 yards.
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.
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. 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. The first of the two passes was an audible called by Hekker himself after gunner Rodney McLeod was left uncovered. Hekker was again nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.
Overall, in the 2012 season, Hekker had 82 punts for 3,756 net yards for a 45.8 average.
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. Overall, in the 2013 season, Hekker had 78 punts for 3,609 net yards for a 46.27 average.
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.
Overall, in the 2014 season, Hekker finished with 80 punts for 3,721 net yards for a 46.51 average.
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.
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. Hekker was named to his third Pro Bowl and his third First-team All-Pro. Overall, in the 2016 season, Hekker finished with 98 punts for 4,680 net yards for a 47.76 average.
On September 11, 2017, Hekker signed a two-year contract extension with the Rams through the 2022 season. In a Week 2 game against the Washington Redskins, Hekker recorded a 28-yard pass to Josh Reynolds on a successful fake punt. On December 19, 2017, Hekker was named to his fourth Pro Bowl. Overall, in the 2017 season, Hekker finished with 65 punts for 3,113 net yards for a 47.89 average.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Super Bowl records
- Longest punt in a Super Bowl: 65 yards
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