The relationship between the Wild and dual-threat quarterback Rocky Hinds started with a text message. Just not the first one.
Hinds reached out to Wild coach Morris Lolar during the offseason, expressing his interest in coming to Wichita but initially received no response. When Lolar finally replied to a text message, that didn’t turn out very promising, either.
"It was a few days later, I texted him again and he finally replied back, ‘Rocky who?’ ” Hinds said. “I told him ‘Rocky Hinds’ and he immediately started responding to me.
"At first I thought there was no interest, and he had me a little worried for a while."
Hinds is no longer anonymous to Lolar and Wichita’s opponents in the Champions Indoor Professional Football League. The Wild is 3-0 heading into Saturday night’s game against Bloomington at Hartman Arena.
It’s somewhat surprising that Hinds had to sell himself to lock down a job, considering his previous success in the indoor game and his pedigree as a former high-level recruit out of high school in California.
Hinds knew Wichita was the right place for him before Lolar knew who he was. But there was something in it for the Wild, too, to finally find a long-term solution at quarterback after recent instability at the position.
"The more I talked to Coach, the more comfortable I felt," Hinds said. "He’s a straight shooter. He told me exactly how it is — he didn’t sugar coat anything — and he was honest with me. That, to go along with the group of guys that we had already signed ... it kind of helped that I knew we were going to have a pretty good, pretty solid team."
Hinds’ journey to indoor football has been atypical and likely not a predicted destination when he drew the attention of several top schools, taking visits to Arizona State, Nebraska, California, UCLA and Southern Cal.
Hinds opted for USC but could never beat out Matt Leinart or John David Booty, though he received a BCS championship ring when the Trojans captured the title in 2005. Hinds wanted to transfer to Texas, but the Longhorns also had emerging stars at the position, so Hinds wound up at UNLV.
After two inconsistent years there, Hinds had lost virtually all of the prestige he carried four years before and ended up in the indoor game, trying to fight his way back to a higher level.
"I wouldn’t necessarily say regrets," Hinds said. "I definitely learned a lot through that process. I feel like everything happens for a reason. If things would have happened different, it would have been a lot better — I probably would have had a better shot. But I am where I am right now for a reason, and all I can do is try to further it and try to get to the next level from here."
Hinds (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) might not be in the best place to showcase his skills. Wichita has an offense full of playmakers, and Hinds doesn’t always have to carry the load.
Tywon Hubbard is always a threat for a 100-yard rushing game and is just as dangerous as a kick returner. Receivers such as Tim Simmons and Joe Kassanavoid can turn modest gains into big ones. It’s an easy offense for Hinds to blend in, but he can stand out at times, as well.
"We have a great balanced offense," Hinds said. "It helps everything a lot for me to not have to throw the ball 30 times a game and teams just sit back and blitz and tee off on me. Tywon does a good job, the offensive line does an excellent job, and it makes everything a lot easier."