Jordan Hicks has been through the ups and downs of big time college football. He transitioned through a coaching change, battled back from injuries and dealt with adversity off the field while at the University of Texas. And yet here this Longhorn linebacker is wearing the Reese’s Senior Bowl jersey and so proud of it.
”It’s an honor,” Hicks said. “To be around these guys, the best in country is a blessing. This is a great game with a lot of history. There have been amazing players in this game. You could say that I went through some stuff. At times it didn’t look to bright because I had been through things. To be here humbles you and make you feel good. I just want to shake as many hands as I can, meet people and learn. That’s the main thing.”
Playing in prestigious all-star games is nothing new to Hicks. He’s a former All-American high school recruit that could have practically named his school and he played in the Under Armour All-America Game a few years back.
”I love being around guys like this, the best players in the country. It’s a different mindset and level of intensity. We are all trying to show out and it’s straight competition. I look at this as a great opportunity.
It’s extra special to Hicks that he gets to share this week with his teammate and very good friend, cornerback Quandre Diggs. In fact, Hicks was his official visit host when Diggs tripped to Austin when he was a highly accomplished senior recruit. Since, the two have grown very close. No they get to go out together in Mobile, Ala.
”I am the old man,” Hicks said. “Seriously, it’s awesome being here with him. I know he’s really worked hard. He came in and made plays right away. I knew he would be special. He’s my brother and we have been through a lot. We won together. We lost together. We went through some coaches. But we both put in a lot of work.”
The biggest story in Austin, Texas at this time last season was the coaching change. Legendary coach Mack Brown was out for the Longhorns and in came Charlie Strong. It took some getting used to for Hicks with his new coach and new staff.
”The biggest difference was that coach Strong is all hands on,” Hicks said. “But I loved the fact that he is a defensive mind. He would sit in on linebacker meeting. He would sit in on DB meeting. These are two great coaches who have two completely different styles. And they are both very successful at what they do.”
Still, a coaching transition is never easy and this was certainly the case for Hicks and Texas.
”It was definitely tough and no one wants to go 6-7,” Hicks said. “A losing season was terrible and not our standard. Everyone knows that and its coach Strong’s biggest motivation. He loves to prove people wrong and he’s the guy to get it done. That’s his mentality. You either get it done or work to get it done. That’s why this staff will turn things around.
”You can’t go against them. They are great recruiters, they are real and personable, they know how to relate to people. 100% they will get it back right.”
Many were surprised in 2010 when Hicks signed with Texas. You don’t see too many prospects from Ohio head to the Lone Star State. But this five-star standout from West Chester Lakota West wasn’t your average Buckeye. He was born in Colorado and lived in Indiana and South Carolina before he moved to Ohio. He ultimately picked the Longhorns over the Buckeyes.
The first contact I had with Texas was my mom,” Hicks said. “She used to work for Mad Dog in Colorado at a gym.That was the connection. I went for a visit and coach [Will] Mushcamp offered me a scholarship on my visit. Then during my senior year I took my official visit and loved it. It felt normal. I moved around a lot growing up and had no ties anywhere. It was a great state with a great school and program. And I wanted college to just be a new experience for me. Texas was the right fit.”
It was never easy for Hicks. He had two season ending injuries and people questioned his durability. But he persevered.
“Going to a place like Texas comes pressure and I have been through pressure,” Hicks said. “And that is what will really helped me is my five years at Texas. I had injuries and off the field issues. I am not going to hide from that. It’s who I am and I am not afraid to share that. Those things have molded me and made me more real. I want to share my story and just tell the truth. People told me I was injury prone. But I tried to focus on the bigger picture. I had to learn and grow and know I am still not there yet. That’s what this thing is about.”
Now Hicks wants to finish his Senior Bowl week on a strong note. This it’s off to the NFL Combine next month and the draft in May. He embraces what lies ahead and know what kind of opportunity sits in front of him with the NFL.
”It’s everyone’s dream. It’s my dream,” Hicks said. “I have never been one to grab a hold of a team, whether it’s college, the NFL, or NBA. I bounced around. It’s who I am and in my nature. I will be just so excited to go with whoever takes me.”Related stories: NFL Rosters Breakdown Series
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