Hogs Find Secret Weapon In Tight End Hicks

At Arkansas, green jerseys in practice are reserved for those who are untouchable. Mostly, they are for quarterbacks. Definitely, they are for Matt Jones.

This year, Jared Hicks has joined the quarterbacks.

The junior tight end donned a protective green jersey in practice over the last couple of months to save some him some pain after he separated his right

shoulder early in the season.

Pain has been a constant for Hicks this season. He can't raise his right arm above his head without intense pain throughout his body. Against Ole Miss on

Saturday, it was sweet, sweet pain as he caught three passes, including the first two touchdowns of his career, to help Arkansas to a 35-3 football victory.

"It hurts to reach up for a pass with my right arm, but when you hear the crowd cheer like they did on those two today, it's all worth it," Hicks said. "It's

beautiful pain, it sure was today."

Maybe it was the fear of pain that kept him from dunking the ball over the goal posts in the south end zone when on that first TD catch, a 2-yard pass from Jones. Perhaps it was the fact several SEC officials stood in his path. Either way, Hicks just flipped the ball to the back judge and went back to the bench area to celebrate with Jones, his good buddy.

"I could have gotten (the ball) over the bar," Hicks said. "But I didn't do it because of all those refs in the way. I know the coaches were probably yelling, ‘No, no, no!' Really, the main reason I didn't do it was because I figured I hadn't been there enough."

Anyway, Jones had already been there, done that. No use trying to match his dunk at the end of the 72-yard touchdown run, his longest ever.

"Matt's was a nine on a scale of one to 10," Hicks said. "Not great on the surface, but I factor in that he'd just run 72 yards and was a little out of breath.

"I thought it was great. With all he's done for this team and this university, we'll give him one 15 yarder. I thought it was an exclamation point and fired us all up. I loved it."

Hicks had caught only five passes all season before his break-out game against Ole Miss. He's been involved in plenty of pass plays on bootlegs for Jones, but most of those have resulted in quarterback keepers or strikes down field to the split end coming from the other side of the field.

"It's been a hard year as far as catching the ball," Hicks said. "But today we wanted to sellout for Matt. It's his last game, along with the other seniors, on this field. Matt sells out for us every week and we made sure we did that for him today.

"Matt is one of my best friends. I came in with him, but I redshirted. We've always been close. I wanted something good for him today. He threw me some great balls. The TDs were thrown where only I could get to them, just great balls."

Hicks said Jones doesn't show emotion or complain despite taunts or complaints by fans or hard critiques by the media. But he did confirm that Jones was at least aware of them this week.

"He said something to me in private the other day," Hicks said. "He said when you read stuff like that, just remember your family and the fact they still love

you. I don't think it gets to him too much because he is so close to his family."

Reminded that he is the only position player beside a quarterback with a green jersey in practice, Hicks pointed out, "Brett Farve wears a green jersey in practice."

Well, Jared, he's a quarterback, too.

"Oh, yeah," Hicks said. "You are right. I'm just doing what our training staff tells me to do. They know best and I trust them.

"I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the offense. I do get in there and do the stuff with the scout team so I see the fronts from the other team and get a feel of the calls for that game. But the contact is something I can't do. I sit out that.

"I don't like it that everyone sees me sitting out of some of that stuff. That's no fun not to be out there with the rest of your teammates in some drills."

Jared Hicks saved the pain for Ole Miss. The Rebels felt it all the way back to Oxford, Miss.








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