|School:||Edmondson-Westside HS, Baltimore, MD|
A quick glance at Penn State's scholarship breakdown illuminates the pressing need for them to sign multiple outside linebackers for its Class of 2008. Four Nittany Lion outside 'backers will be in their final season of eligibility after the 2003 season (Derek Wake, Lamar Stewart, T.C. Cosby, and Jimi Mitchell), with only one of those players (Stewart) eligible for a redshirt (though that seems unlikely at this point). With the immediate need for outside linebackers, Penn State has already been heavily involved with one of the best on the east coast, Baltimore Edmondson HS's Mark Hicks.
At 6'1'', 225, the 1st Team All-Metro linebacker selection has been timed as running a consistent 4.5 forty according to his coach, Pete Pompey. His size and speed helped him to dominate on defense, but Hicks also contributed heavily on offense playing fullback.
"He led the team in tackles, probably like 95 solos just off the top of my head. I think he had about 7 or 9 touchdowns with about 650 yards rushing," stated Coach Pompey.
At this point, Hicks has received two offers - Penn State and Maryland. His list of suitors does not end there however, as North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College have also either requested film or been in contact.
With a ton of early attention, does one school really stand out for Mark?
"No. Right now he has the University of Maryland and Penn State on his list," admitted Coach Pompey. "I don't know if either of those are his favorites but those are two schools that he's really looking at hard right now."
Penn State has been involved with Mark since the beginning of his junior year of high school. Earlier this year, the Nittany Lions sent him a written offer to play the WILL (weak side) linebacker. With the early interest from Penn State, was any Penn State coach able to visit Baltimore during the brief, two week visit window that began right after Signing Day?
"No, not yet. Larry Johnson will be here in the spring. We've had numerous conversations on the phones but he has not had the opportunity to get out here yet."
Mark, himself, has also not been able to unofficially visit any schools yet, although this spring he tentatively plans to visit Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Maryland for junior days.
Coach Pompey traditionally has the Edmondson HS Red Storm in competition for a state championship, so he knows a special player when he sees one. What attributes does Mark Hicks have that warrants so much early attention?
"As a player he's totally intense. He's an outstanding player - a great tackler, runs well, covers the field, sees the field well, and has just great knowledge of the game."
LionNews hopes to interview Mark in the near future to get a feel for his take on his recruitment.
(Interview by Steve Curry)