A closer look at 3rd base - part II

Who will play third base this season for the Ole Miss Rebels? With Chris Coghlan gone to the pros, several players are in the mix. Tuesday - Cody Overbeck. Today - Devin Hicks.

Devin Hicks waited his turn at third base last year while Chris Coghlan played out his career as a Rebel.

Hicks, a redshirt freshman from Bartlett, Tenn., is one of several candidates vying to play that particular corner of the infield this upcoming season. Third-year sophomore Cody Overbeck, true frosh Dan Black, and second-year sophomore Evan Button also appear to be in the mix.

Hicks practiced a lot last year alongside Coghlan. It was a learning year, according to the 6-foot-1, 224-pounder. Coghlan, a highly-drafted professional now, was a terrific mentor.

"Coghlan taught me a lot," said Hicks, coached in high school by Memphis area legendary baseball coach Phil Clark who was at Germantown before Bartlett. "I learned so much from him. Being here at practice every day with him was a great experience. Like he taught me that when I throw it to first after catching a ground ball to pick my feet up when I throw. Before that I was dragging my back foot. He told me I'd be a lot quicker if I picked my feet up. I'd get a lot more carry on the ball getting over the top of it. Things like that.

"I've learned a lot from Chris, Coach (Dan) McDonnell (who coached infield before leaving), Coach Rob (Reinstetle, the new infield/hitting coach). It's all been a learning experience for me."

That it has. Redshirt years are supposed to be that way, along with getting stronger and more agile. Hicks says that's the case for him as well.

"I'm bigger than I was when I got here," he said. "I'm stronger. I've gotten better with my movement over there. Just the whole thing is better."

Hicks says with so much competition on this team at basically every position, there's no room for complacency.

"But I think it's great," said Hicks, who bats right and throws right. "We're all working our butts off every day to improve our position. It's like every other position on this team. There's a lot of talent everywhere you look. You have to work hard every day or you'll get left behind."

Hicks played first base and outfield early in his high school career and then played third his junior and senior seasons. So he's comfortable there.

He says he's also more comfortable having a year of college behind him, even if it was a redshirt year.

"This year I'm so much more focused," said Hicks, batting .500 so far this fall (5-for-10) with a home run, a double, and five RBI – he's also the team leader in walks with seven. "I've added some weight and I worked out hard. Last year was real good for me. I'm better because of it."

Hicks is obviously giving it all he's got to win the job. Last week he crashed into the fence and hurt his left hip as he tried to catch a fly ball. He's playing through it, though.

His hitting has been solid and offensively he's obviously posted some good numbers.

"I'm seeing the ball well. Coach Rob (Reinstetle), I really like him. He's helped me already with my hitting. He's shortened my swing up. I'm getting my front foot down early. Last year my swing was real long and I wasn't getting my foot down. Coach (Stuart) Lake (now an assistant at The Citadel) helped me with that, and Coach Rob has really emphasized that, too."

So Devin Hicks continues to be a work in progress as he tries to land an everyday position for the spring of 2007, just like the rest of his Rebel teammates.

"There's a lot of competition out here. We're all giving it our best shot every day."

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