Beaver student athletes now in the pros

Brady Akins, Sports Contributor

With both football and soccer season in full effect here Oregon State University, homecoming is an opportunity to look back at Beaver student athlete alumni.  

Two athletes made an impact during their time at OSU and continue to make an impact on the professional level in both these sports are National Football League Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker and National Women’s Soccer League Seattle Reign Football Club forward Jodie Taylor. 

Both Taylor and Hekker have achieved success in their respective sports on a professional level and were beloved players during their time as students at Oregon State. This will eventually turn into a regular article that highlights a number of former OSU student-athletes, but for this week let’s turn our focus to Hekker and Taylor.

Hekker attended Oregon State from 2008 to 2011 and was a four-year starter at punter for the football team. Hekker experienced a success during his time as a Beaver, being named the Special Teams Most Valuable Player of the team’s 2008 Sun Bowl victory as well as earning a Pac-12 Honorable Mention during his final year as a Beaver in 2011. 

In the NFL, Hekker continued to perform and has developed into a record-breaking, all-pro punter for the Los Angeles Rams.

Signing with the Rams back in 2012 after going undrafted, Hekker became the immediate starter for the team. Hekker has had an eight year career with the Rams. He was voted into the NFL Pro Bowl and to the NFL’s All-Pro team in four of his eight seasons. 

During the Rams 2018 Super Bowl appearance, Hekker booted a 65-yard punt while pinned deep in his own endzone. The punt became a record for the longest punt in Super Bowl history.

Despite being called on just 10 times through the Rams’ first four games of the 2019 season, the Oregon State alum has been averaging 51.4 yards per punt. The average ranks him second among punters this year. 

Hekker remains connected with the community off the field. During this last offseason, he helped to raise funds for the Los Angeles Fire Department as well as for Waterboys, an organization comprised of former and current NFL players who help volunteer and raise funds to build wells in countries experiencing water scarcity. 

Jodie Taylor was a student athlete at OSU from 2004-2007 with the Women’s Soccer team. Taylor ended her Beavers career with 47 total goals through four years of play and still holds the Oregon State Women’s Soccer records for career points and career goals. Taylor’s was also voted to the First Team Pac-10 women’s soccer team in each of her four seasons with OSU. 

Taylor has appeared in 15 games for Reign FC and has amassed four goals, the second-highest total on the team. She has also been a member of England’s national team since 2014 and was a member of the 2019 World Cup team whose postseason run ended in the semifinal round. 

England fell to the United States in the semifinal round and eventually lost to Sweden in the third-place game. Taylor appeared in three games in England’s World Cup run and scored one goal against Argentina during group play.

Currently, both Taylor and Hekker are in-season. While the NFL is approaching its fifth week, Taylor’s Seattle Reign have one game left on their schedule. Hekker and the LA Rams faced the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, Oct. 3. Taylor and Seattle Reign FC face Orlando Pride on Saturday, Oct. 12. 

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