Safety Xavier Hicks plans early Pullman arrival

WSU VERBAL COMMIT <b>Xavier Hicks</b> took his official visit to Pullman this past weekend and says he can't wait to get back to the Palouse. In fact, the standout safety and honors student from Fullerton, Calif., is so eager to begin, he plans to arrive in town this July, well before fall camp opens. In doing so, he follows in some impressive rookie footsteps -- <b>Michael Bumpus</b> did the same thing a year ago. And, like Bumpus, there's a real chance he'll see immediate playing time.

The Cougars are paper-thin at safety and Xavier Hicks (6-1, 185) could earn playing time this fall. Hicks is an extraordinary athlete, earning first-team all-league honors at both quarterback and safety.

Presuming he gets the OK from Cougar coaches, Hicks plans to crack heads in a few summer All-Star games and then will head north.

One reason Michael Bumpus felt so comfortable in fall camp was his early arrival -- he reported on July 20 and spent every spare moment with his nose stuck in the offensive playbook.

Hicks, whose uncle Kevin played for the Cougs a decade ago, said his official trip to WSU confirmed that he made the right choice.

"It went really good," said the Fullerton High star. "I liked it up there. Meeting the players and the coaches, just knowing who my teammates are going to be. Just getting to know them and everyone around Pullman, the people were all just really nice. Just being over there was a very good experience "

HICKS, A SOUTHPAW who led the Freeway League in passing and total offense, spent time in Pullman with both the defensive backs and quarterbacks. His host was safety Eric Frampton.

"I got to know him and Husain Abdullah, and also Christian Bass. I got to know them pretty well and I also just got to know Michael Bumpus. And I talked to Josh Swogger."

In addition, he took a moment to seek out wide receiver Jason Hill. Hicks followed the Cougs closely this past season and thought Hill's performance was something else.

"I talked to Jason Hill, I congratulated him on his record. It was very fun up there. We bonded pretty good -- it was a good time."

AS YOU HEAR so often from Cougar recruits, the family feel of WSU and Pullman was something that struck Hicks.

"Very open arms...They welcomed me to the Cougar family. I was happy to say (this weekend) I was part of the Cougar family."

Another highlight for Hicks this trip was spending time with head coach Bill Doba and defensive backs coach Ken Greene. Hicks and Greene, a Cougar All-American and former NFL first-round draft choice, have already developed a connection that could pay dividends for years to come.

"I talked to coach Greene, coach Doba -- they're both very nice. Coach Greene, he seems like he's a real good person. He just let us know how he coaches a little bit, which seemed interesting. I liked his style of coaching."

What style does the former All-American defensive back during his playing days at Washington State now employ as a coach?

"Intense. He gives out good energy, good positive energy to his players. He coaches in a way that he just wants to get the best out of his players."

WITH THE HICKS family bloodlines -- uncle Kevin Hicks had 1,295 all-purpose yards for the Cougs from 1993-94 -- Washington State fans might want to keep an eye out for Xavier's brother Michael Hicks next year. This season, Xavier and Michael combined for 10 interceptions in the Indians secondary. The brothers also hooked up on offense, with Xavier throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and favorite target Michael leading the Indians in receptions and yardage. Xavier also rushed for nearly 1,000 yards.

HICKS CARRIES a 3.83 GPA. He's been called the best athlete in all of Orange County by opposing coaches. He's humble, gifted and driven to succeed.

Coach Doba and the staff recruit players who want to be at Washington State, athletes who are good, tough, hard-nosed players. Players who bleed Crimson & Gray, and are men of character.

In other words, players like Xavier Hicks.

"It gives you an opportunity," said Hicks. "Playing football opens doors to go to the next level (scholastically)."

"I just appreciate that I was able to play sports in high school -- that I was able to show my athletic abilities and just do my best."

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