RECRUITING: Hicks Ready To Make Big Splash

The visitor at Florida's practice Monday may not be well known in recruiting circles right now, but it is only a matter of time before everybody knows his name. Brandon Hicks is a 6-2, 199-pound safety/linebacker from Jacksonville Forrest that is ready to make a big splash on the recruiting scene.

(See Brandon Hicks profile)

A standout at the All-American combine in Jacksonville back in March, Hicks ran the third fastest 40-time among the linebackers. He's a player that never leaves the field for Forrest. On defense, he had 89 tackles, 12 sacks, and 18 passes broken up. He had 400 receiving yards as a tight end and wide out plus he returned punts and kickoffs while serving as the punter and placekicker.

This big time all-around athlete spent the day on the Florida campus Monday before going to watch the Gators practice. Both the campus visit and the practice proved to be positive experiences.

"It was nice, I liked the way the practice was run," Hicks said. "Coach (Greg) Mattison (co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach) is pretty cool. I like the way he coaches. I got to see the way he coaches down there. I got to sit in on a meeting with the linebackers and Coach (Charlie) Strong and it was neat. I got to see them go through individually what they need to work on and then talk about it."

Hicks thinks he could make a dent on the Gators roster.

"I mostly looked at the linebackers," he said. "I was comparing myself to how some of them played and how they moved. I could see where I was faster and quicker than a bunch of them. Most of them are bigger than I am but eventually I will get to that size. The coaches said they know I can run and that I can move my feet.

"They told me they saw my high light tape and they said they liked it. They said I could be one of their players. I look like their type of linebacker. They like the way I go after the ball aggressively and that I was quick."

It was also a time to visit with one of his old buddies from back when he began playing football in the Jacksonville Pop Warner leagues.

"I have known Tim Tebow for a long time," Hicks said. "We played Pop Warner together for a long time. He's cool, still the same person. We talked a little bit and he told me that he really liked Florida."

What is most surprising about his visit to Gainesville is that he wore FSU gear at the combine in Jacksonville and talked about not really caring for the Gators. This is recruiting, however, and when kids start checking out their options, suddenly the childhood favorite takes a back seat.

"My mom was a FSU fan and I just started liking them, but I am open to everybody right now," he said.

He hasn't gotten an offer from Florida yet, but that seems just a matter of time. He's already received offers from Florida State and Miami.

"Florida State offered me yesterday and Miami and Auburn have offered me also," he said. "I was kind of excited about the Florida State offer … I didn't want to put all my focus on them and want to see my options first. They told me they want me as a linebacker too."

"The Miami offer was exciting too. It was one of the first one's I got. Coach Hurt is recruiting me down there. He said that I remind him of someone there that is about to graduate."

The Central Florida Knights also sound like an option at this point for Hicks. They are certainly putting on the full court press.

"I like to be on the field, I hate being off the field," he said. "I like being in the action. UCF already said I could start as a freshman. At their junior day I talked with Coach McCarty and we talked for about an hour. He told me they need more strong safeties and linebackers."

He is torn as to which position he wants to play. It sounds like he will be willing to pick the right school and land where he thinks he can make the best of it.

"Most of the schools are recruiting me at linebacker and some at safety," he said. "I like safety because you can see the field, but I like linebacker because I can hit more people."

He will take his time making his decision. He is not going to get caught up in the hoopla of some team and commit, only to realize before signing day he may have made the wrong decision.

"I haven't really been anywhere to see different schools out there," he said. "I would say I will commit on signing day next year. I don't want to commit too early and make sure I make the right decision. I want to see how the coaches and players respond together and how they play. To me it's not about the team's record, it just matters if it is a strong team and what type of team it is."

A good student, Brandon Hicks wasn't happy with the first take on his SAT, but starting this early is a good sign. He is intelligent and a heck of an overall athlete. He could end up being an explosive big safety or if he really grows some more, a fast linebacker that can really make plays. One thing is for sure, everyone will want this player before all is said and done.

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