Early Opportunities in Sight for Hicks

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – It did not take long for freshman running back Josh Hicks to impress in his first Rutgers training camp. Hicks, at the time, was the earliest commitment of any Rutgers football recruit. He arrived for good this summer, and has his sights set on early playing time.

After running back Josh Hicks signed his National Letter of Intent in February, he sent frequent text messages to the older running backs in the Rutgers system.

“I’m coming to play,” he would tell Savon Huggins and Paul James. “Watch out.”

Hicks described it as having fun with his “family,” but the time for fun is over now that training camp is underway.

In constant talks with Huggins and James, the conversations become serious with Washington State fast approaching.

“It’s a real honor that they want to spend time with me,” Hicks said. “They know everything. They help me out. They want me to be great.”

The original camp depth chart placed Hicks on the two-deep for special teams reasons – Hicks returned kicks and punts in high school – but by the open fan practice in week two, he found plenty of reps with the top guys at tailback.

“It’s competitive,” Hicks said. “It’s more competition than I’ve ever seen. We’ve come together as one. We play hard, and nothing is easy. You just have to focus in and push yourself. Earn everything.”

Huggins is out for Washington State, and sophomore Desmon Peoples missed parts of camp for injury reasons. Hicks took advantage of extra reps in the first week. He wants to play immediately, he said, but has a long way to go before that happens.

“I was very patient when I committed,” Hicks said. “I can be patient again, but I definitely want to play. If my number is called, … I promise I’ll be ready.”

Hicks committed to Rutgers at the start of his junior year at Palmetto (Fla.) High School. He received dozens of suitors and offers since his early commitment from SEC, ACC and Big Ten schools.

He never wavered.

“I love the loyalty that Rutgers showed me,” Hicks said. “They were a family. I like the people and the program. The staff came to visit me all the time. They were interested in me. They believed in me first, and that’s all I can say about that.”

The playbook will be the biggest hurdle for Hicks to earn playing time. His first true scrimmage situation comes Monday afternoon, and he can expect the coaching staff to have eyes on him.

Continuing to learn the Rutgers scheme, Hicks said offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen is an excellent resource.

“He’s a wonderful man,” Hicks said. “He’s a smart man. He’s challenging me to learn everything. He wants to put me where I need to be because he thinks I can be a playmaker.”

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