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July 27, 2011
Dawgs commit can do it all
The rising senior has switched roles from prospect to recruiter and emerged as the vocal leader of the Dawgs' 2012 class.
"At first it was John Theus and I got him. He told us his top three were Texas, UGA and Florida and he was just saying how much he loved UGA and how much he loved spending time up here with his brother," Hicks said. "My question to him was what was he waiting on? He just kinda laughed but at the same time he knew where he wanted to be."
Even before Hicks had committed, he said he wanted to bring in the #1 player in Georgia wherever he decided to go. While still claiming to be undecided, he worked on Jenkins County standouts Jonathan Taylor and James Deloach at the GHSA state track meet in May. Then, on Dawg Night, fresh off his successful attempt to reel in Taylor and Deloach, Hicks harnessed his inner Ray Drew and started calling out top prospects to join him for battle between the hedges.
"Before all of this, [Theus] told me if I committed then he would, but we needed some other power house players to make it worth it so we went to talk to other recruits," Hicks said. "So we went on to talk to Derrick Henry, got him on board and then Tramel Terry, then Brice Ramsey. They all went up to Coach (Mark) Richt and said they wanted to be Georgia Bulldogs."
Don't be fooled. The decision to take up the recruiting reigns doesn't mean Hicks enjoys the process itself. He said the recruiting game was not something he was interested in being on the other side of for too long.
"I played hard to get a little. I was going to play the hat game and wait 'till signing day but I went ahead and committed. Recruiting got a little uncomfortable for me," Hicks said. "I'm not big on all the hype around a recruit because if you go and don't perform when you get there it doesn't look good. So, if you know you want something and it's good, go ahead and go with it."
The question about Hicks is not so much how he will perform, but rather where the high motor Bulldog commitment will be showcasing his talents on the field.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound athlete was offered by most other programs, including Duke, Illinois, Louisville, Miami, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and in-state rival Georgia Tech, as a defensive end, but the coaches in Athens felt Hicks could a more immediate impact on the other side of the ball.
Georgia offered Hicks as a fullback, which seems right on-point with how the current backfield is shaping up for the Dawgs. Johnathan Jenkins has said he will be wearing number 6 so the nose guard could moonlight at running back. The 345-pounder, who told UGASports he ran a 4.9 40 last summer, would be adding to an already beefy backfield of tight end-turned-back, Bruce Figgins, and a running back, turned linebacker, turned running back once more, Richard Samuel. If anything, Hicks would fit right in.
Hicks attributed the genuine offer at fullback as a main factor in choosing the Dawgs.
"When I was getting recruited all the coaches said I looked great at the defensive end position but I wasn't the size everybody wanted me to be as a defensive end," Hicks said. "Once UGA offered me as a fullback I think other coaches started thinking they had to get me anyway they could and decided to start recruiting me at another position."
The Georgia offer changed the tune of most other programs recruiting pitches, but Hicks said he wasn't buying what the other coaches were selling.
"Tell me this, how are you going to be recruiting me as one position and telling me all this stuff, and then out of nowhere, start recruiting me at another position. They were just telling me what I want to hear," Hicks said. "But i could see in their eyes they were telling a bold-faced lie. With UGA and the coaches, it was always firm, fair, and consistent with recruiting me; it was a tough love. They aren't going to tell you anything easy, they are going to be straight up."
And Hicks has every reason to believe the coaches in Athens were honest in their recruitment of him as a fullback, even if he grows into a defensive end. Georgia's track record at fullback to defensive end conversions speaks for itself.
David Pollack and Charles Grant are both former Dawgs who were physically similar to Hicks coming in. They logged early minutes as fullbacks but also starred on the defensive line in high school. When they got to Georgia, they eventually outgrew fullback, switched to defensive end full time, and ended up as first round picks.
Hicks, who has been called a tough, hard-nosed competitor who can use his quickness to beat bigger offensive tackles, said he is well aware of his predecessors successes and doesn't rule out making the switch to the other side of the ball.
"It was crazy to watch Pollack grow from fullback to defensive end. I love the defensive side of the ball and if I were to play on the defensive side of the ball I could definitely fit into Georgia's scheme of a 3-4," Hicks said. "I would say probably most likely I'd play both sides of the ball. I'm a young kid I have lot of growing to do. Who is to say what I'll be build-wise from now to my senior year. I just want to be in the program. I want to be the best."
In an effort to become the best and bring the best, Hicks is clocking in double-time at top camps, like The Opening Nike camp in Oregon, working hard on technique, and also, on other 2012 targets.
"The camp was intense, good but intense. I worked a lot with my hands at fullback," Hicks said. "I got to know Zach Banner, and Chris Casher was my roommate. We still keep in touch."
Two other in-state Bulldog targets were at The Opening with Hicks, and both are set to decide soon between Georgia and South Carolina. Lithonia offensive lineman Joe Harris will be announcing his decision today, and Banneker defensive back Chaz Elder is likely to announce in the next few weeks.
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