RECRUITING - Xavier Hicks tearing up the OC

ONE ORANGE COUNTY assistant coach, whose team recently played against <b>Xavier Hicks</b>, said not only was Hicks the best player they had gone up against this year, he was the best player in the entire "OC", period. A look then, at Xavier Hicks, verbal commitment to Washington State and playmaking safety and quarterback out of Fullerton, California.

During the recruiting process, Xavier Hicks liked what he was hearing when it came to Washington State. Coaches Bill Doba, Ken Greene and George Yarno all made a strong impression on the 6-0, 185-pound star athlete.

He also heard nothing but positives from his uncle, someone who played for the Cougs in the mid-90s. So it didn't came as a surprise when Hicks ended the recruiting process early and gave his oral commitment to Washington State.

"Just by talking to coach Yarno, coach Greene and coach Doba," said Hicks, talking to about how he knew Wazzu was the place for him. "They got me pretty excited about Washington State. And my uncle played at Washington State."

As well as on the silver screen. In Boyz N The Hood, the acclaimed 1991 John Singleton film about inner-city struggles, the movie's football scenes contain actual game footage of Kevin Hicks carrying the pigskin as an L.A. high school senior.

Kevin Hicks (1993-94) had 1,295 all-purpose yards and 9 touchdowns for the Cougs over his two-year career at Washington State, including a career best 135-yard rushing performance in a win over Cal and a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Michigan.

A ringing endorsement from family tends to go a long ways. And Kevin told his nephew of his positive experience at Washington State.

"He told me he had fun up there," said Xavier. "So that went hand in hand, knowing that my uncle went there and enjoyed (his time at WSU.")

Xavier, who will make his official visit to Washington State on Dec. 10, is looking forward to next August when he takes the practice field for the first time as a Coug.

"I'll be ready," Hicks said.

THIS SEASON, Hicks has been a ball-hawking defensive back for Fullerton, snatching away five interceptions and breaking up many more passes, ensuring they never reach their intended destination. Washington State is looking at him at the safety position but the thing you should also know about Hicks is that he's simply an athlete, making plays wherever he lines up.

At quarterback, Hicks currently leads the entire Freeway league in both passing and in total offense, tossing the ball for over 1000 yards and 12 TDs while accounting for over 1600 total yards on offense.

Fullerton is 7-2 on the season, both losses coming with Hicks either out injured or at less than 100 percent.

The Indians entered Week 7 undefeated and led 13-0 in the first half when Hicks went down with a turned ankle. He watched the rest of the game from the sidelines as Sunny Hills, aided by three Fullerton turnovers in the second half, scored 14 unanswered points to hand the Indians their first loss on the year.

The head coach at Sunny Hills mentioned Hicks' absence as being the difference in the game during his post game remarks.

"Let's face it, when Hicks left the game we were able to do some more things," coach Jim Arnold said.

Seven days later, a noticeably limping Hicks gave it his all but couldn't lead his team past top-slotted La Habra. But with the ankle much improved the following week, Hicks brought Fullerton back to the win column, dispatching Sonora 21-7 in a must win game that kept their playoff hopes alive.

Hicks had a hand in all the scoring against Sonora, throwing two TDs and returning a blocked field goal attempt 55 yards to paydirt. And the ankle? Much better, thank you.

"It's fine," said Hicks. "We know every game can be our last game...everyone is stepping up their level of play, playing harder for each other."

This Friday, Hicks and Fullerton take on rival Troy in their season finale. Win, and Fullerton receives an automatic berth in the playoffs. Accordingly, Hicks said the practice intensity for the Indians has increased this week.

ALTHOUGH LEADING THE LEAGUE in several categories and being such a valuable part of the Fullerton offense, defense is where Hicks will be looking to make his mark at the next level.

"I like roaming the field. As a safety, I feel its one of the most important positions because you're the last defense for both run support and passing. So as a safety, you can go up and both stop the run and also stop the pass...I like getting the interception or getting the big hit."

Getting a momentum-turning pick is particularly satisfying for Hicks, using his football smarts and experience at quarterback to put himself into position.

"I think I can read where the ball might go, put myself in the right spot to get the interception... I like getting interceptions. And it goes hand in hand because I play quarterback."

Hicks said playing the quarterback position has translated to his safety spot, giving him the advantage of experience at the QB spot that most other safeties don't have. As the season has gone on, opposing teams have taken notice, throwing away from Hicks for the most part.

"After the first couple games, I haven't really seen too many passes. Not too many thrown deep or over the middle."

FULLERTON COACH JULIAN SMILOWITZ told that Washington State will be getting an outstanding athlete in Hicks, a team leader who is also an exceptional student.

"He's an outstanding young man," said coach Smilowitz.

"He's a good hitter, he has great feet. He has a good sense to the ball."

There is another Hicks in the pipeline at Fullerton. Xavier's brother Michael, a junior, plays wide receiver for the Indians. Michael has two receiving touchdowns on the year. "He's got talent (too)," said coach Smilowitz. "He has a lot of skills."

THE STUDENT in student-athlete comes first and foremost for Hicks, a well spoken and exceedingly polite young man who carries a 3.86 GPA. On Friday nights, he plays football games. On Saturday mornings, he competes just as hard on Fullerton's speech and debate team.

Memorizing two pages, Hicks delivers his oratories sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish.

"You just kind of act it out, have fun with it...It's my last year in high school, so I thought speech and debate would be a pretty good thing."

In Hicks, Washington State will be getting a student-athlete who excels both in the classroom and out on the football field.

And that's a pretty good thing, too.

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