One of the biggest games in former Oxford High standout Dan Hicks’ young college career will happen Saturday night in Miami.
The Florida State defensive end and the rest of the Seminoles will be on ABC in prime time in an important ACC battle with the Hurricanes.A year after redshirting, Hicks has started to make his mark for the 4-1 Seminoles, who just got back into the Top 25 rankings after dispatching Virginia 34-14. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Hicks recorded a sack against the Cavaliers and has two sacks and four tackles so far on the year. Hicks told me during the preseason for a blog post that he was starting to get more reps as he entered the season as backup to starter Brandon Jenkins, who already has 4.5 sacks on the year and 23 tackles.
Hicks was the scout team MVP last season in Bobby Bowden’s final year as head coach, an honor he still talks about.
“I knew that sometime this year I would start to get more reps, get more playing time and play a role,” Hicks said. “I was happy that I didn’t have to grayshirt when I got here and that I got to redshirt which meant I didn’t lose a year of eligibility. People thought that because I came from Mississippi and that I was only a two-star recruit that much wasn’t expected of me, but I’m starting to come on and show my potential.
“The coaches gave me a chance after I was basically treated like a walk-on my first year. I had a good spring with the new coaches and everybody started from the beginning,” Hicks added. “Everything was different for me, but there is more flexibility in this defense. In the old defense you had to stay in your gap, but in the new defense that Coach (Mark) Stoops brought in, you have a greater chance of making plays.”Based on the way the first five games have panned out, Hicks will play against the No. 13 Hurricanes. He has appeared in all five games and considering how much quarterback Jacory Harris likes to throw the ball, there is a great chance for Hicks to record a sack or at least get seen making a pressure on national TV.
Hicks’ father, Dan Footman, was a standout for the Seminoles in the early 1990s. Prior to him playing eight seasons in the NFL, Footman played in some memorable games with the Hurricanes, with his final two being “Wide Right I” and “Wide Right II”, games that Miami used to win a national title and play for another.
“When I first got here, my dad told me not to look at myself as a walk-on that I should use my redshirt year as a chance to get bigger, stronger and show the coaches what I had to offer,” said Hicks, who added his dad only lives two hours away in Jacksonville. “He told me to always play hard and I think the coaches noticed that. My defensive line coach now told me that I’m very athletic, but I had to get better with my technique to be a great player. I need to give great effort and I need to be more consistent.”
The sky is the limit as far as Hicks’ long term playing ability. He appears to have at least locked up a sizable role for a redshirt freshman the short term and if things continue to matriculate well, could find himself starting as a sophomore or even junior. Hicks said he was doing well in school and that going to class and being a part of the FSU program was a “dream come true.” He also added that he plans to get his degree because he knows that a pro career, despite his father’s pedigree helping him, is not guaranteed. (October 8, 2010, Page 7A)