Les Miles finalizes coaching staff by adding Jeff Hecklinski as tight ends coach

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Courtesy of Kansas Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football head coach Les Miles has completed his on-field coaching staff by adding Jeff Hecklinski as tight ends coach.

“I am excited to add a coach of the caliber of Jeff Hecklinski to our staff,” said Miles. “He has experienced great success in recruiting, teaching and developing student-athletes and consistently gets the best out of them, both on and off the field.”

Hecklinski arrives in Lawrence after spending the previous two seasons at Indiana State, where he served as both the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, while also overseeing the Sycamore quarterbacks.

In his first year at Indiana State, Hecklinski saw two offensive players named All-MVFC including tight end Jacquet McClendon who was named to the Second Team and LeMonte Booker who garnered Honorable Mention accolades at running back.

Prior to his time in Terre Haute, Hecklinski was the passing game coordinator and QB coach at Colorado State-Pueblo in 2015.

Hecklinski was a four-year member of Brady Hoke’s staff at Michigan from 2011-14 as the assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. His final season in 2014 was highlighted by Devin Funchess, who was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. Funchess was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2014, leading Michigan with 62 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns.

Hecklinski’s unit had continued success in 2013, led by Jeremy Gallon’s record-setting year. Gallon finished the season with a program-best 1,373 receiving yards. He also had 89 receptions, ranking second in U-M history, and nine touchdowns. Gallon also posted a reception in a program-record 39 consecutive games, breaking Braylon Edwards’ previous school mark. Gallon ended his Michigan career ranked third in all-time receptions (173), third in receiving yards (2,704) and tied for ninth in touchdown receptions (17).

Hecklinksi worked with a Michigan offense that averaged 383.1 yards per game in 2012. Gallon and Roy Roundtree led the group, combining for 80 catches and 1,409 yards and seven touchdowns. Gallon caught a then career-best nine passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the Outback Bowl, while Roundtree finished his career ranked sixth in U-M history in career receptions (154) and receiving yards (2,304).

The receivers contributed to an offense that averaged 404.7 yards per game in 2011, which ranked third in the Big Ten. Five different receivers had multiple touchdown catches, led by Junior Hemingway, who totaled 34 receptions for 699 yards and four touchdowns. Two of Hemingway’s touchdowns came in the Sugar Bowl, where he was named MVP in Michigan’s 23-20 overtime victory over Virginia Tech.

Prior to that, Hecklinski was part of Hoke’s staff at San Diego State from 2009-10, which won the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. At SDSU, Hecklinski helped mentor star running back Ronnie Hillman, who broke NFL legend Marshall Faulk’s single-season rushing record and was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Hecklinski first joined up with Hoke at Ball State in 2004, where he was the recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach until he went to SDSU with Hoke after the 2008 season.

At Ball State, Hecklinski helped coach two of the most prolific players in Cardinal history in wideouts Dante Love, who ranked second in the country in 2007 in all-purpose yards (206.92), and Dante Ridgeway, who was an All-American and one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award in 2004.

Hecklinski was the quarterbacks coach at Arizona in 2003, after two seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Central Missouri State, where he helped the team to the school’s first-ever playoff appearance and bowl victory.

Hecklinski earned his bachelor’s degree at Western Illinois in 1997, where he was a quarterback and threw for more than 5,980 yards to rank second in the school’s career record book, after transferring from Illinois following two seasons with the Illini. He played for the Arena Football League’s Albany Firebirds in 1998.

He and his wife, Tiffany, have a daughter, Riley, and two sons, Mikey and J.R.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.