Dukes WR Hocker honored by Sporting News
For three seasons, Bruce Hocker has played college football in anonymity at Duquesne University. Entering his senior year, the All-America wide receiver is hoping to earn some recognition.
Hocker, a native of Upper Marlboro, Md., is one of only four players from the mid-major level to be named to the 75-man College Sporting News preseason NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision All-American Team.
Hocker, who led FCS receivers in yards per game (107.0) and touchdown receptions (16) last year, was named to the magazine’s third team.
The award signals an opportunity for the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Hocker to produce a breakout season that would stand up at higher-level programs in the former I-AA, labeled now by the NCAA as Division I Championship Subdivision.
He came back from a broken collarbone that limited him to three games as a sophomore and registered 61 receptions for 1,070 yards and 16 touchdowns to earn consensus All-America honors as a junior for Duquesne (7-3 in 2006).
Hocker also posted the most points per game nationally by a receiver (9.6). In the process, he joined current Cleveland Browns defensive back Leigh Bodden (1999-02) as the only other player in Duquesne history to be named a I-AA All-American by The Associated Press and the American Football Coaches Association.
Hocker recently took time to speak to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Question: While football is a team sport, during your time with the team, Duquesne has won three league championships. How do you excel in this setting?
Answer: The team is always first. In order for my team to be successful, I must be successful, the key elements must be successful, the coaches must be successful, everyone down to the last person needs to be successful.
Q: What are you looking for from Duquesne, when it opens the season at home on Sept. 1 against Bucknell?
A: Our team is one of the best teams as a unit to play at Duquesne. We have great skill players and we have a very experienced offense. I’m looking forward to having a great game. I really don’t expect to lose this year.
Q: Duquesne has played a schedule dotted with bigger programs and you’ve been a part of it. How does playing those types of teams motivate you?
A: It makes success a requirement, knowing that you’re coming into a program that others may think is small and others may think, on paper, you’re supposed to lose to these bigger opponents, but this small school, Duquesne, always gets up for every team we play.
Q: What are your aspirations beyond college?
A: My goal is to play in the NFL and be successful. As far as work ethic goes, I feel I know what it takes. I have a lot of (former) teammates and friends who play in the NFL, who basically watch over me and give me the inside information and resources to know what it takes. I try to take a lot of their positives and negatives to become a better wide receiver.
Q: Where do you rate yourself among the great Duquesne receivers?
A: With my confidence, I will be the best wide receiver to come through here. I feel I’m among those great wide receivers.
Q: Why did you choose Duquesneâ¢ With your excellent size, speed and hands, why not play at a bigger program?
A: A lot of schools showed interest (West Virginia, Auburn, Syracuse, North Carolina). Duquesne was the only school that really stuck with me. I made a few academic mistakes in high school, so they stuck with me and helped me mature into a better academic student, athlete and man in general.
Q: Do you think about Duquesne moving next season to the Northeast Conference, a more established leagueâ¢ And do you wish you could be a part of that?
A: I love that they’re moving to a more established conference, and I love it because the players before me and the players here now are the reason for us moving. I couldn’t have hoped for a better story on my behalf. I’m satisfied where I played and who we played out-of-conference.
Q: How much have you followed the progress of the Duquesne basketball team, which, after last year’s tragic shootings, appears to be ready to turn the cornerâ¢ There hasn’t been much to cheer about for quite some time.
A: That’s an interesting question because this year our football and basketball teams grew close, not because of the shootings but because our guys just connected. It wasn’t like other years. This year, we all have meshed well. Everybody gets along. Therefore, we support them and they support our program. I’ve got some action shots of those guys jumping around. We all sit in the crowd at basketball games and wait for something big to happen. We notice those guys at our games, too.
Q: What is your best asset?
A: I really can’t pinpoit my best asset. I stick more with my negatives. I feel I can do everything on the football field. I can catch the short possession or the long ball and I have a nose for the end zone. My speed gives me a better chance for success. I enjoy the yards I get after making a catch.
Q: What would you say to prospective high school recruits who are considering Duquesne or schools with similar football programs?
A: If you have the chance to go to that big school, go to that big school, but since I’ve been here, (the coaches) have always told me that if you work hard, have great character and be a great team player, everything else will fall into place. If your goal is to continue playing after college football, if you work hard, they’ll find you, which is happening now. As far as being a person, being in that college football atmosphere and being a part of that stepping stone we know as college, that atmosphere anywhere will just make you a better person in general.
Q: Has Pittsburgh been good to you?
A: Yes, Pittsburgh’s been great. I have a beautiful family — a son and a beautiful girlfriend.
Q: How would you describe your time spent here thus far?
A: My time here was a great story. I had my success. I had my tribulations. I got to meet great people, teammates and coaches. I’ve had a good opportunity. It’s been good. It’s a great story to tell my child and grandchildren.