JUCO Giant Eyes Big Orange

Tennessee's search for help in the D-line has reached the west coast where hard-to-miss Akiem Hicks, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle from Sacramento City Junior College, stands head and shoulders above the JUCO crowd.

Hicks came to SCJC from Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, Calif., where impressive junior and senior seasons were offset by academic difficulties that carried over from his freshman and sophomore years.

Lesson learned the hard way, Hicks is now on track to graduate on time (May 9). He'll will have three seasons to play two for the Division I team that signs him.

"A lot of it had to do with my immaturity," Hicks told Josh Newberg of USF Nation. "My freshman and sophomore year I dug myself into a hole I couldn't get out of. I worked hard as a junior and senior but I was too far behind."

Armed with a new attitude and the ambition to prove himself as a student/athlete, Hicks thrived in the junior college environment as both player and pupil.

"Sac City is a great program, and I've matured a lot," he added. "I've gotten the support I need here and I'm ready to contribute to a major program. What I learned here will help me on the next level."

As a freshman on the gridiron at Sacramento City, Akiem Hicks recorded 50 tackles with four sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery that he returned for a 30-yard touchdown.

To this point Hicks has received six Division I scholarship offers from South Florida, Tennessee, Kansas State, Oregon, Purdue and Arizona. He lists his final four as Tennessee, Oregon, South Florida and Arizona.

You might expect the far west schools to have the inside track for this four-star tackle/nose guard. However, he has said location wouldn't be a factor and nowhere is too far to go to play for his program of choice.

That could bode well for Tennessee, especially with a fifth-year senior, DeMonte Bolden, and a fourth-year junior, Dan Williams, slated to start at the tackle slots and no clear successors on the roster. The opportunity for playing time in ‘09 is wide open, a point that would have to appeal to a player making up for lost (playing) time.

In terms of his size and strength, Hicks is a close match to the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Bolden, making it easy for him to envision himself toiling in the trenches for Tennessee.

The Vols should have a substantial edge over the other trio of finalists when Hicks makes his official visits. That advantage would be compounded if the JUCO hero can arrange to visit during a football weekend.

Finally, Tennessee's reputation for providing strong academic support will carry weight in the courtship of this game-ready warrior.

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