Committed Over: Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan cornerback Faion Hicks committed to Wisconsin over offers from Appalachian State, Colorado State, Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Illinois, South Florida, Western Michigan and others.
Rated: Hicks is rated a two-star prospect by Scout.com but is in the process of getting thoroughly evaluated
On Film: An intelligent, savvy cornerback hailing out of talent-rich South Florida, Hicks is a playmaker in the secondary that does a good job of transforming into the receiver once it's time to get vertical. Hicks is very aware of his surroundings and knows where the football is at all times.
Hicks impresses when operating in zone coverage. He does a good job of reading the quarterback's eyes and shoulders, and then puts himself in play by tracking the ball and timing his jump. His anticipation and football intelligence allows him to get an early jump out of his backpedal, playing with good technique and bounce.
He isn't the biggest cornerback across the map, but shows no problem getting his nose dirty and chipping in with physicality. Hicks has the tendency to throw a shoulder to deliver the blow, so wrapping up is something he can continue to focus on.
Hicks also shows good hand use when playing in press-man. He bumps the receiver off their route, and then finishes off the play by staying in their back pocket down the field. He's not the most explosive defensive back, but is more than capable of turning an interception into a lengthy offensive gain. More fast than quick.
Like many South Florida kids, Hicks is a self-assured prospect. Whether it's playing 7-on-7 or suiting up for his high school, Hicks doesn't back down and lines up against some of the nation's premier pass catchers. Level of competition is certainly not a concern here.
Overall, this is a well-rounded cornerback that's at his best when blanketing wide receivers. Change of direction, as well as recovery speed and wrapping up, are areas of improvement heading into his collegiate career. Good football player, but a great individual as well.
Recruiting Impact: Still down with their overall numbers at the position, Wisconsin wanted to find a way to add another cornerback in addition to three-star North Carolina native Madison Cone in this class, especially since Ke’shan Pennamon has officially de-committed after signing in February, reclassifying to the 2017 class and enrolling in a prep school. Looking at the known recruiting board, it’s unlikely Wisconsin will target another listed cornerback with Cone, Hicks and Nick Nelson being available next season after transferring from Hawaii.
The position to watch in the secondary is at safety, not a huge position of need for Wisconsin but one in which they’ve targeted a handful of recruits. Denver Mullen three-star Christian Cumber will take an official to Wisconsin at the end of the month, while Detroit Jesuit three-star Scott Nelson is also trying to make a visit before deciding, possibly on the same weekend at Cumber.
Cumber feels like a Michigan State lean, but Nelson could come down to an Iowa-Wisconsin battle.
Quotable: “How loud it was. I knew they had great fans but not like that. The love for the program is amazing.” – Hicks on his biggest takeaway from Wisconsin’s game vs. Ohio State.
Final Thought: After having both shoulders operated on, Hicks said hearing the Wisconsin team doctors OK him was a relief. “I knew once that was out the way, the coaching staff would be confident in my health and that's what matters.” Wisconsin had done its due diligence with Hicks and were more impressive with his skills than his height, especially since UW has done well with shorter, confident Florida corners like Antonio Fenelus (a current grad assistant) and senior Sojourn Shelton.
Hicks is physical, solid in man and able to play multiple defensive schemes. He’s deciding to enroll in January so he can, “come in and work because I know I'll make an early impact. I'm ready to fill that role.”
UW has done well with overlooked skill prospects in talent rich areas. Hicks has the makeup of someone who can continue that trend.