BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Tucker Kraft and Zach Heins. Two tight ends, two weapons and two friends that began their bond back three years ago during Krafts official visit as a senior in high school.
“I knew he was upstairs and I told him I was like ‘hey, whenever you want to leave just let me know’ and then I went upstairs at some point just to check on him, gone,” SDSU tight end Zach Heins said with a smile.
Kraft would enter the program coming from Timber Lake HS with a graduating class of just 24 kids.
“We played 9-man football, we were the lowest class in basketball and every other sport. We didn’t even have wrestling or baseball. We were small,” SDSU tight end Tucker Kraft said.
And it made the adjustment to Division I college football all the more difficult.
“I almost gave up,” Kraft said. “I didn’t think this was my thing, I thought I was going to get moved to D-line, I couldn’t catch the football, everything just happening so fast in your head.”
But there to help Kraft through the difficulties was Heins who was dealing with adversity of his own.
“I was running across the middle, caught the ball that was behind me, turned to run and the backside corner had fallen off and just took out my leg,” Heins said.
Tearing his ACL, MCL and meniscus, after just 4 games, Heins 2019 season was over. But there was one benefit.
“Well he had a handicapped sticker. So, I got everywhere a lot faster,” Kraft said with a laugh.
“Because I could drive at that point,” Heins added.
After making strides in the spring of 2021, the fall season will bring a more prominent role for the tandem. Through 8 games Kraft currently leads the team with 40 catches and the pair of 250 pound plus targets have combine for 8 touchdowns.
“When I first got here, they were here when I got here in June and every single day, right after weights or right after we threw, they were like ‘hey lets get some more work in’ and so we just sort of built that chemistry up the past four or five months to where we’ve gotten a good feel for each other now and I sort of know where they’re gonna be and they sort of know where I want to place the ball in certain situations or certain plays,” SDSU quarterback Chris Oladokun said.
Both are reliable and both come with different skill sets.
“I would say with Zach, probably the number one thing that you’re going to notice with him is he just has elite ball skills. Like his hands are phenomenal and he catches almost everything you throw at him,” SDSU Tight Ends coach Ryan Olson said.
While Heins may have the slightly better mitts, pound for pound, you won’t find a better athlete on the roster than Kraft. With 35-inch vertical, a Jackrabbit tight end record 572 pound squat and a program record 380 pound power clean, the redshirt sophomore is a workout warrior.
When Kraft and his three other Jackrabbits roommates aren’t getting a lift in at the facility, you can find them here in their makeshift garage.
“He’s aiming for the bench record next off-season. So, he’s definitely the top as far as work ethic in the weight room, and they all work hard, but he’s that meat head that just loves the weight room and really gets after it,” SDSU Strength Coach Nate Moe said.