Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESS
For Hicks, the time for him to rise up and become a star for this defense has arrived. Will he answer the bell?
Expectations could not be any higher for Hicks. He was the top-ranked player at his position when he was recruited, he is expected to be a main cog for a defense that is supposed to be among the best in the country, and he is the only returning starter at linebacker.
Plus, he has been placed on the watch lists for the Lombardi and Butkus Awards that recognize the best linebacker in the country.
The good news for Hicks is that he is surrounded by All-Big 12 both along the line and in the secondary that will make his job much easier. The line will keep opposing blockers occupied while the defensive backs lock up in coverage, and he has ball hawk Kenny Vaccaro ready to clean up after him.
Also, Hicks is healthy and has had a full offseason for the first time in his career, which means we will see more of what we got in the Holiday Bowl and less of what we saw against Oklahoma.
All things considered, Hicks should have a very good season for this Longhorns team. First off, he should have no problem, in this scheme, with racking up about 100 tackles on the season.
However, my eye is on what he will do in the backfield as a blitzer. His length will allow him to disrupt passing lanes, and his speed will make him very dangerous as a pass-rusher.
If Hicks can put up 100 tackles and add in a handful of sacks, there is no reason to think that he will not make the All-Big 12 second team. And if he has a few games that are reminiscent of his performance against Cal, he could find himself up there with the first-teamers.