Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hicks Rises through Forrest; Multi-Sport Athlete, Who Found Home at Linebacker, Is Super 24 Player of Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hicks Rises through Forrest; Multi-Sport Athlete, Who Found Home at Linebacker, Is Super 24 Player of Year

Article excerpt

Byline: CHASE GOODBREAD

Baseball and basketball always came as natural to Brandon Hicks as football.

As a power-hitting first baseman in the West Duval Youth Association, he cracked a few home runs that parents still remember. Could pitch, too.

He tried out for basketball as a freshman at Forrest High School and had little trouble making the team. He ran track for two years.

It was never which sport Hicks was good enough to play at Forrest -- it was which sport was good enough for him.

Dennis Clemons is glad that football was the ultimate choice.

And Hicks, the Times-Union's Super 24 Player of the Year, has little doubt he made the right one.

"Once I got into football, I just decided to let everything else go," he said.

The first Rebels player to collect scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State and Miami, Hicks is favoring the Gators and Hurricanes as the recruiting season winds within five weeks of closure.

From his outside linebacker position, Forrest counted on Hicks for big plays. He recorded six sacks on the season, intercepted three passes and either caused or recovered six fumbles.

Hicks returned an interception for a touchdown to key a season-opening victory over Sandalwood, and the next nine quarterbacks to face Forrest knew he was the one to watch. Hicks wasn't the Rebels' leading tackler because of offensive game plans that were designed to avoid him.

"We checked off away from him pretty much the whole game," First Coast coach Marty Lee said. "If we had something called to the side he was on, [quarterback] Derald [Jones] usually got us out of it. He's that kind of player."

Said Clemons: "I've never seen so many people running to the weak side. We usually played him strong side hoping to get him into more of the action, and he ended up having to make a lot of plays chasing people down. It helped our other guys mature because they couldn't count on Brandon to make every play."

At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Hicks hopes to add 10 to 15 pounds before entering college in the fall. …

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