Coach's Corner: Nehemiah Hicks

In a continuing trend of small high schools with big talent, Nehemiah Hicks showcases his explosive power at 3A Hutto high school. Aggie Websider visits with Hicks' coach, Lee Penland, about this end's performance and recruitment.

Why is it that Nehemiah is getting so much attention this early? What makes him special?

"Well he is a very good size, he is a legit 6'4", and he's 225 right now, and he has great range. He's tall and lean and he's running a 4.7, and he is very explosive. He has a great first step. On offense he blocks well, we are an option team and to be honest we don't do a good enough job trying to get him the ball because he is great whenever we do get it to him, but he is very physical and explosive off the line."

What is his biggest weakness to his game?

"His biggest weakness right now is probably just his weight. He is in basketball right now so he keeps a lot of the weight off, but he has the frame to get it up there. I think he's destined to get up to 265 or 270, and maybe even become an interior guy once he gets into the focus of eating right and lifting. The thing about Nehemiah is, he's only 16 years old. His birthday is in June, so he is very young for his age and is definitely still growing. I think that excites a lot of coaches because of his potential."

How is his work ethic?

"He has a very strong work ethic, you know how it goes with athletes like him where he is moving from varsity to varsity to varsity practices in football, basketball, track, or whatever else we need him to do, but he is great at all the different kinds of running he has to do. He busts his butt and he is one of the leaders on the team which is pretty special for a 16 year old, and he is very focused all the time. Our option offense is no huddle, and he is always confident of what to do in those situations, he's got a very fast football mind."

Is there aspect of his game on the field that stands out above the rest in a positive way?

"There are a lot, but it is probably his ability to rise to the level of competition. He's started for me since he was 15, and we've played a lot of good and experienced teams, and it seems like he steps up in big games. We've played some good linemen this year too, like the A&M commit that plays for Killeen (Rhontae Scales). I won't say that Nehemiah dominated him or anything like that because he didn't, but we heard later that Scales was asked, I think it was by Coach Sherman, ‘who was the best end you went up against this year?' that Scales said that it was that Hicks kid from Hutto."

How is his recruitment going?

"Well I just got off the phone with LSU, and they just looked at his tape and are very interested but they haven't offered yet, so I think his offer list right now stands at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Houston, and SMU, but I could be missing some. Out of those I would say A&M, Oklahoma, Tech, and OSU are teams that are in his top 4."

Are most schools recruiting him as a tight end or defensive end, and where do you see him in college?

"It's both; it really just depends on the school. A&M for example is recruiting him on both sides of the ball, Missouri is recruiting him mainly as a tight end, and Tech, since they don't really have a tight end position is recruiting him mainly as a defensive end. Honestly for me, I can totally see him playing either, or even getting bigger and playing inside. He is just so explosive that it will carry over to either side of the ball.

Do you know his timetable for when he would like to make his decision?

"He's in track right now, so I don't think he's going to make a decision during the school year, but I would expect a decision by early summer. If LSU offers that may throw a wrench in it, I have no idea, but I know his top three are probably A&M, OU, Tech and A&M and Oklahoma in particular. I think he thinks he can play earlier at A&M and it's closer to home for mom to come watch him and stuff, but at Oklahoma he can compete for championships, so he's deciding between those two. He's going to Oklahoma on April 10th, and he has been to A&M, Tech, and Baylor. I think he's going back to A&M for their spring game. The best thing is he's already qualified, he has the SAT and GPA and all of that, so he should be good to go for whichever team he chooses."

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