Fresh off a national championship victory and the departure of offensive coordinator Darren Wilkinson, ThunderWolves football has found its play caller. Jeff Hecklinski has been hired as CSU-Pueblo’s wide receiver/quarterback coach and passing game coordinator.
“First and foremost, I want to say that I’m excited to be here and my family is excited to be here,” Hecklinski said of his move to Pueblo.
Hecklinski takes his spot on the coaching staff after a four year career with the “Big Blue” at Michigan, where he personally coached receiver Jeremy Gallon to a record setting season in 2013.
Over the last three seasons at Michigan, Hecklinski coached wide receiver corps that contributed to offenses averaging 400 yards a game.
This impressive statistic was with a team that had a lackluster running attack, with both of their top running backs averaging a mere 3.4 yards per carry on the season. Now, imagine the damage he could do with a Pueblo offense sporting a rusher who’s coming off a 2,000 yard season and an average of 6.0 yards per carry.
As far as experience goes, Hecklinski has also found himself coaching at programs like San Diego State, Ball State, and Arizona where he took on major roles directing the offensive attack.
“We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us. We get to defend a national championship, and that’s something that I’ve never done before, and none of you have ever done before,” Hecklinski said in a team meeting Tuesday. “We’re going to get everybody’s best game because we have a target on our back. Everybody wants to knock off the national champs.”
With a coaching style that focuses on togetherness, being a tight knit unit, and holding everyone accountable, Hecklinski’s winning attitude seems to be contagious around the Pack House.
“I think that Coach Heck is a pretty nice guy. He’s a family man, which is going to be essential for the unity of our offense and our team,” said senior quarterback Malcolm Rueben. “He’s extremely excited to work with us and it shows. He has coached some pretty dynamic players, so a lot of our receivers are excited as well to see what he brings to the table.”
Rueben, a backup quarterback last season, will be looking to step into the role of starter for the ThunderWolves. With a cannon for an arm and the added element of being a mobile quarterback, he exhibits many traits that former Michigan dual threat Denard Robinson displayed while under Hecklinski’s coaching.
“I’m excited for the change that’s going on, and I’m extremely excited to be coached by him. He’s been around some good football for the past few years, so he knows what it’s supposed to look like,” Rueben said.
With most of the starting offense returning from last season, CSU-Pueblo looks to continue their dominance on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. After a national championship season, expectations for a repeat title are high, and Jeff Hecklinski is just one more tool Pueblo has to accomplish that.