Just two weeks ago, Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks wasn't even really on the Texas radar, even though he was coming off a productive junior campaign after making the move to running back following his sophomore season. At the first Texas Junior Day, he received his Texas offer and nearly committed, but opted to hold off until Hookem.com broke the news of his commitment on Saturday.
A lifelong Texas fan, Hicks ended his burgeoning recruitment despite increasing national attention (recent offers from Arkansas, Michigan, and Notre Dame), becoming the fifth commitment in the 2013 Longhorn class and the fourth in four days, helping to consolidate the recruiting momentum established by pledges from Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver, Fort Worth Arlington Heights offensive lineman/defensive tackle A', and Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.
In the overall narrative, it's been known since the commitment of Aledo star Johnathan Gray last spring that recruiting would become difficult at the running back position due to the depth on campus. Florida native Keith Ford of Cypress Ranch is the top running back in the state and Pearland Dawson back James White has Texas connections with former teammate Kennedy Estelle set to enroll in the summer, but running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite zeroed in on Hicks recently and continued his stellar run on the recruiting trail by quickly securing his commitment.
So much for depth chart concerns keeping Texas from landing a top-flight running back in the class.
Listed at 5-10 and about 190 pounds, it's tempting to list Hicks as an all-purpose back because of his size and the fact that he has proven ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Combined with his strong play at cornerback for Martin as a sophomore, it could even be conceivable to list Hicks as an athlete.
However, the most impressive thing about watching Hicks on film is that he shows some serious running back skills, particularly his ability to break tackles and still maintain his balance. After losing to Euless Trinity in the playoffs for what must have seemed like an eternity to Warrior fans (or four of the last five seasons, to be exact), Hicks was a major factor in finally helping overcome the Metroplex power in the 2011 playoffs, recording 113 yards on the ground on 20 carries.
Most impressive was his game-clinching run for the final margin (watch here at just before the 3:00 mark). From 19 yards out, Hicks showed his speed to take the edge, then made a slide cut through multiple defenders before spinning out of the tackle of a defensive lineman and keeping his balance on the way to the endzone and a monumental playoff victory.
As always with a prospect, there are certain plays, especially in the biggest of moments, that cement a player as one of the best and that run against Trinity was that play for Hicks.
If you still aren't a believer, here's the scouting report on Hicks from BFLT after watching him at the Red Bull Gamebreakers last summer:
What jumped out at me about Hicks physically is his frame and height. Hicks is every bit of 5'11," and could be pushing 6 feet. Hicks is ripped, but he has plenty of room to grow. Hicks looked to be around 175 pounds, but he could easily carry 200 pounds of solid muscle mass. Hicks has said in interviews that he runs between 4.4 and 4.5 40, and that time appeared legitimate in the Tournament.
Hicks played corner as a sophomore, but was moved to running back in the spring. Hicks played almost exclusively at slot wide receiver in the Game Breakers Tournament. Game Breakers doesn't allow running plays, so Hicks came out of the backfield sparingly. Hicks was also used as defensive speed rusher on third downs. Game Breakers Tournament rules require 2 seconds to pass before a defensive player can rush the passer, and there are no blockers. In Hick's limited defensive action he looked instinctive and disruptive. He knows how to stay in front of a ball carrier, take good angles in pursuit, possesses excellent closing speed and chops his feet before making a blow. I believe cornerback is Hicks' natural position. As sophomore cornerback, Hicks showed fluid hips, good recovery speed and striking ability.
As a slot wide receiver, the Arlington Martin quarterback looked for Hicks on nearly every play. Hicks ran mostly short routes, but he got loose on a few deep routes, easily getting separation from his defenders on 2 long touchdowns. Hicks made excellent adjustments on deep balls in the air which translates well to cornerback ball skills. Hicks was also impressive catching balls in traffic. Hicks boxed out well and attacked the ball with his hands to make difficult catches in crowded windows. Hicks looked elusive and showed good moves when catching the ball in space.
In summary, given the depth at the position, Texas could hardly have hoped for a better result at the position than landing Kyle Hicks. And even though the commitment from 2012 all-purpose back Daje Johnson has reduced the need for DeSoto star Dontre Wilson, it appears that the Longhorns made up some serious ground with Wilson on his Junior Day visit and could end up adding his name to an already loaded running back corps.
When you are the Joneses, rich is never rich enough, right?