JONESBORO, Ark. (1/8/21) – Arkansas State head football coach Butch Jones announced Friday that Keith Heckendorf has been named the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“Coach Heckendorf is an individual that I have known for a number of years dating back to his days at North Carolina,” said Jones. “I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person, a mentor and a coach and have followed the success of his offenses for a number of years. Everywhere I have coached, Coach Heckendorf has always been on the top of my list, including from day one when I took the job at Arkansas State, and we are very excited to have him leading our offense. We’re thrilled to have Keith, his wife Mia, and their sons, Ethan and Elliott, as a part of our football family.”
Heckendorf, who spent the last two seasons in the same role at A-State, guided a Red Wolves’ offense that put up impressive numbers in both 2019 and 2020 while featuring a pair of wide receivers in Omar Bayless and Jonathan Adams Jr. who earned multiple All-America accolades.
Last season alone, Arkansas State ranked second in the nation in passing offense (364.4 ypg) and averaged 488.9 yards total offense that was not only the 14th highest in the country, but also the second best in school history.
The Red Wolves’ prolific passing offense put up 39 touchdowns, which broke both the school and Sun Belt Conference records. The offense averaged 6.3 yards per play for the second-highest mark ever by an A-State squad and averaged 32.9 points per game to rank 35th in FBS.
The year prior in Heckendorf’s initial season at A-State, the offense ranked 26th and 33rd in the country in scoring offense and total offense, respectively, to help the Red Wolves’ post an 8-5 record and Camellia Bowl victory over Florida International.
The 2019 team ranked No. 10 in the country in passing offense (312.1 ypg) and No. 14 in team passing efficiency (157.55) as well.
Also overseeing the quarterbacks position each of the last two years, Heckendorf mentored a pair of quarterbacks named 2020 All-Sun Belt Conference Honorable Mention in Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher. The duo combined for 3,921 passing yards that, when combined, would have ranked as the third most in the nation among any single quarterback despite A-State playing just 11 games.
The 2019 season saw Hatcher earn Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honors after he posted a 167.9 pass efficiency rating that was the second best in Sun Belt history and ranked sixth in the nation. Among freshmen only, Hatcher led the country in passing yards average, total offense per game and passing efficiency.
The quarterback position wasn’t the only one to flourish in Heckendorf’s high-powered offense as wideouts Bayless and Adams were named the Sun Belt’s 2019 Player of the Year and 2020 Offensive Player of the Year, respectively. All said, A-State had 10 players tabbed all-conference between the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive line positions.
Bayless, along with fellow wide receiver Kirk Merritt, signed NFL free agent contracts with the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins, respectively, following the 2019 campaign.
Heckendorf came to A-State after spending the previous eight seasons in multiple roles with the North Carolina football program, including the last five as quarterbacks coach. He also served as the Tar Heels’ passing coordinator the last three years and as the recruiting coordinator in 2014 and 2015.
The Mosinee, Wis., native also spent the 2011-13 seasons in a player development position at North Carolina.
His time at North Carolina saw the football program play in five bowl games and appear in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship game, the same year the Tar Heels won 11 games for their best season in nearly two decades.
North Carolina won 19 combined games in 2015 and 2016, which were the most in Chapel Hill since the 1996 and 1997 seasons. The Tar Heels finish 15th in the county in the top 25 polls in 2015 when it led the nation in yards per play and ranked ninth in scoring offense with a school-record 40.7 points per game.
North Carolina’s passing game was among the nation’s best under Heckendorf’s leadership, while the Tar Heels also set the school record for passing yards three of the last five seasons. During that time Heckendorf tutored some of the most successful quarterbacks in school history, including the 2017 NFL Draft’s No. 2 overall pick in Mitch Trubisky.
Prior to his tenure at North Carolina, Heckendorf spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarter-backs coach at Western Carolina. He also spent three seasons at Nebraska that included trips to the 2005 Alamo Bowl and 2007 Cotton Bowl.
Heckendorf had a standout career as a quarterback at St. Cloud State (Minn.) from 2000-03. He was a two-time finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is given annually to the top player in NCAA Division II football, finishing second and third in the voting. He was also a consensus American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America pick, and a two-time Academic All-America choice.
He was the Division II recipient of the prestigious National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar-Athlete Award. He earned his bachelor’s degree in elective studies from St. Cloud State University in 2004, and he completed his master’s in education administration from the University of Nebraska in 2014.
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2021/1/8/a-state-football-names-heckendorf-offensive-coordinator.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council