Injuries are part of the game. For Jordan Hicks, it must feel like he’s had more than his fair share.
Hicks missed the final 10 games in the 2012 season with a hip injury. In 2013, he was on the field for four games before an Achilles injury ended his season. The junior linebacker has to be wondering why the injury bug has been so cruel to him. A promising college career has been reduced to a few dominant moments spread out over four seasons.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Hicks showed up at Texas as the 2009 Gatorade Ohio Football Player of the Year. He was awarded the high school version of the Butkus Award for the nation’s top linebacker. A PARADE All-American, Hicks looked to have a bright future on the Forty Acres. Most ESPN top 150 prospects who came to Texas did. Now, after missing 19 games the last two seasons, he suits up for a new coach and a new defensive scheme while looking to end his college career on a positive note.
In his absence, Texas has developed some pretty good talent at linebacker. Steve Edmond, Peter Jinkens and Dalton Santos were solid contributors. But the team missed a true playmaker at the second level. Opposing offenses were able to gash the Longhorn defense in the run game. Hicks isn’t necessarily the cure all for a porous run defense, since he was on the field for the BYU debacle, but he was leading the team in tackles (41) before his injury.
The senior linebacker sat out spring drills, so no one is sure what to expect from Hicks. The one thing he does bring is experience, having played in parts of four seasons. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will take that. The more talent for linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary to develop, the better.
Charlie Strong is looking for players to rise to the occasion and help usher in a new era. He wants hard-nosed players willing to sacrifice everything for the good of the team. This philosophy seems fitting for a players like Hicks, who has nothing left to lose.
At this point in his career, he just wants to stay healthy and contribute.