Alter grad Hicks realized persistence in 1st season

Jan. 26—After doing practically every little thing on the sector for the Alter Knights for 4 seasons, C.J. Hicks had solely a restricted function in his first yr with the Ohio State Buckeyes final season.

That is OK with Hicks.

“I really feel like all people that is right here needs to at the least see the sector and play just a few snaps at their place, however on the finish of the day, you possibly can’t be egocentric,” Hicks mentioned throughout Ohio State’s Peach Bowl media day final month. “You must play as a crew and do what’s finest for the crew.”

Because the No. 7 prospect in 247Sports Composite nationwide rankings, Hicks was the highest prospect in Ohio for the category of 2022, and the highest-rated recruit in Ohio State’s signing class.

He began at cornerback as a freshman for the Knights — no small feat — however performed practically each place on protection ins his 4 seasons for Alter and was additionally a daily on offense and particular groups.

As a senior, he carried 66 occasions for 667 yards and 5 touchdowns and caught 28 passes for 396 yards with 4 extra touchdowns receiving, however he remained a defensive participant first.

Enjoying security, nickel, all three linebacker spots and even just a little little bit of finish, he completed ninth within the GCL Co-Ed with 84 tackles.

With Ohio State having struggled defensively in 2021 and the linebackers particularly being disappointing, Hicks was considered as a candidate for early taking part in time with the Scarlet and Grey.

That is now the way it turned out.

Veterans Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers each blossomed in new coordinator Jim Knowles’ protection, and Hicks noticed little taking part in time on protection.

He was a daily contributor on particular groups, although, and expressed no considerations about having to attend his flip to do extra.

“This yr has taught me to be affected person,” Hicks mentioned. “As a result of all through my complete life, I’ve began and performed soccer yearly. That features my freshman yr at Alter. So yeah, it simply taught me persistence and having the ability to be teammate off the sector and the identical factor on the sector.

“Coming in, sure, I wished to play clearly, however I haven’t got an issue sitting down and watching my teammates ball out. Put one of the best guys on the market and ball out and do what’s finest for the crew. I am not a egocentric man. I wanna see all my guys eat, and Tommy and Steele are consuming.”

In the end, Hicks was credited with six tackles in 12 video games. He lined kicks and was a part of the kickoff return and put return items whereas getting just a few snaps on protection late in blowouts.

He additionally made impression on Knowles, who coaches the linebackers on high of coordinating the protection.

“I believe C.J. is extraordinarily gifted, an amazing child to be round. Needs to study. He is gonna have a shiny future,” Knowles mentioned.

With Eichenberg and Chambers each returning for his or her senior seasons, snaps might be onerous to come back by once more on protection this fall.

Nevertheless, Knowles likes to place collectively totally different packages to make the most of totally different gamers with totally different ability units, so it stays to be seen how issues will shake out.

His 4-2-5 defensive base makes use of solely two linebackers more often than not, however it asks them to do quite a bit.

Hicks described it as taking part in nickel however doing so within the field, an outline Knowles didn’t dismiss.

“Yeah, I imply, we ask our linebackers to do a variety of various things,” he mentioned. “So it isn’t an inside linebacker or an out of doors linebacker. He is gonna need to play in all totally different positions on the sector. So his athletic ability goes to turn out to be useful.

“C.J.’s obtained a extremely balanced character. He isn’t an ego man. He is a crew man, so I believe he is dealt with every little thing very well.”

Hicks mentioned he loved his first season working underneath Knowles, who didn’t take over the protection till after Hicks had arrived in Columbus.

“He is helped me see a variety of issues that often I would not see,” Hicks mentioned. “Watching the entire discipline, watching the road of scrimmage, seeing what sure guys are going to be doing. He is helped me quite a bit.”

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