For a guy who’s listed at 6'2" and 257 pounds, Georgia’s Quayvon Hicks has an uncanny way of going unnoticed.
A member of the 2012 signing class, Hicks was a 3-star fullback recruit and the nation’s 446th-best overall prospect, according to 247Sports. That class featured commitments from 5-star prospects Keith Marshall, John Theus and Josh Harvey-Clemons and produced one of the nation’s most explosive running backs in Todd Gurley, so Hicks was almost an afterthought.
In 2012, Hicks played primarily on special teams as a number of his classmates made early contributions. In 2013, he accounted for just 139 of Georgia’s 6,294 yards of offense. He scored only one of the Bulldogs’ 57 offensive touchdowns.
Now, the rising junior is equally difficult to find as he has moved from his home as a fullback to cross-train as a tight end during spring practice.
Despite posing a seemingly innocuous threat to opposing defenses, Hicks is a name worth knowing for Georgia fans.
The Value of His Production
Statistics don’t tell the full story of Hicks’ production in 2013.
His total offense numbers don’t accurately portray his deftness as both a runner and receiver. His 72 rushing yards last season came on just 10 carries. Equally impressive, his 67 receiving yards were accounted for on just five catches.
Even more indicative of Hicks’ impact as a sophomore, however, are the situations in which he found success.
His first carry of the season came on 1st-and-10 from Georgia’s own 3-yard line in the first quarter against Clemson. He exploded through the line for a 37-yard gain. Nine plays later he scored on a one-yard touchdown to give Georgia a 21-14 lead. Later in the same game, Hicks hauled in a 38-yard pass to set up a Todd Gurley touchdown run that tied the game at 28 apiece.
Against South Carolina the following week, Hicks accounted for 51 yards on five touches. The entirety of his workload came in the game’s final 20 minutes as Georgia milked the clock and nursed a lead at home in Sanford Stadium.
Disappearance and Blocking Struggles
Despite a tremendously productive start to the season, Hicks seemed to disappear later in the Dawgs’ 2013 campaign. Like many of his teammates, injuries plagued the hard-nosed runner for much of the year, but other weaknesses also impacted his playing time.
In particular, struggles as a blocker kept Hicks off the field. Following Georgia’s third game of the season, a 45-21 win over North Texas, Hicks offered the following assessment to Seth Emerson of The Telegraph:
Honestly, I would say a lot of blocks weren't made. That was on me, and I felt like fundamentals were lost on me as a person. I looked at film and it was horrible. It was a horrible game for me. We got the W, I just know me as a player I've got to get better. I can't get complacent in what people say or whatever. That's what happens sometimes, you get caught up in what the media says or the fans said or whatever, and you lose sight of keeping the foundation. And that's mastering the basics and keeping those throughout the season.
Hicks registered just 11 yards of offense over Georgia’s final 10 games.
A Welcomed Move
According to Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, the move to tight end makes a lot of sense as Hicks looks to improve on his weaknesses. Bobo told Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
I think he plays with a good base. His issue sometimes blocking has been out in space which causes him not to fit up properly. So we think getting up there close to the line will give him a chance to be successful in the running game.
Combine Hicks’ natural athleticism and this favorable alignment shift with the Bulldogs’ lack of depth at the tight end position, and the move is a logical one. Currently, Jay Rome is the only tight end on Georgia’s roster with significant playing experience, and he’s out for the spring as he recovers from foot surgery.
That being said, Hicks is not merely a placeholder at the position, and if his previous track record is any indication, he could compete for the starting spot in the fall. Last spring, Hicks was named the offense’s Most Improved Player as he went on to challenge a returning starter, Merritt Hall, for the starting fullback position.
While Hicks seems destined to play a hybrid H-back role, don’t be surprised to see him garnering significant time as a tight end, where he’s already made quite an impression. According to GeorgiaDogs.com, head coach Mark Richt assessed Hicks’ progress as follows:
For being there a short time, Quayvon is doing some good things. He has a decent knack for running routes and has a big enough body where he can block (strong side) linebackers or some of the bigger bodies that tight ends face. Quayvon has the skill-set to do both positions.
If Hicks can continue his development at the position, he could be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. As opponents key on star playmakers like Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley, Hicks will find space with which to operate—both as a runner from the fullback position and as a receiver from the tight end position. And as a big, reliable target he could be a perennial safety valve for quarterback Hutson Mason.
Georgia fans need to watch out for more Quayvon Hicks. And the same goes for opposing defensive coordinators.