The conference calls are done, the speculation is over, and a decision is in from five-star linebacker Jordan Hicks on where the talented tackling machine will attend college.
With three fans bases on the edge of their collective seats Friday morning as Hicks made the call from a press conference at his high school, two felt dejection while one felt jubilation. And the cheers could be heard from Austin, Tex., all the way to West Chester, Ohio.
Jordan Hicks, the Under Armour All-American linebacker from Lakota West high school made his highly-anticipated college decision at his high school Friday morning and the Texas Longhorns prevailed over finalists Florida and Ohio State, landing a verbal commitment from the No. 4-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150. Hicks commitment came an hour and a half after No. 2-ranked prospect Jackson Jeffcoat commited to the Horns.
“There were a lot of similarities between all three schools but the differences were the little things like the trust factor and that they showed they listened to what we said," Hicks said. "It was clear Texas was the place.”
“They were all good programs but Texas had that family feel that made me feel like I’m already a part of.”
Hicks informed Mack Brown Thursday of his decision.
“It was great. He was real excited. I told him how I felt and how I was real excited. He actually screamed. It felt good to get it out and let the coach know I was coming there.”
Hicks said Longhorn defensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp staying at Texas despite being courted elsewhere "showed a lot of loyalty to Texas. That’s key."
Urban Meyer's uncertain situation at Florida also figured into the equation.
“It affected it a lot. It showed how much more stable Texas was than Florida. That was a big factor and had a big affect on my decision.”
[For commitment announcement video, click here.]
Hicks is the 24th commitment in Texas’ 2010 recruiting class (see complete class list), the second ESPN Scouts, Inc. five-star prospect in the class and puts the finishing touches on what now might be considered the best recruiting class ever assembled by Mack Brown.
Hicks adds to a defensive class that features five-star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, four Under Armour All-Americans, two other U.S. Army All-Americans, two additional members of the ESPNU 150 and two other four-star prospects, all on the defensive side of the football.
Landing Hicks is huge for Texas on a number of fronts starting with the need at the linebacker position. Jared Norton’s return will give the Longhorns some stability but there is little established depth behind returnees Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson. That means Hicks, along with fellow commits Aaron Benson and Tevin Jackson, will be in line for early playing time.
The Longhorns were able to pull a linebacker prospect from the backyard of Ohio State, where the Buckeyes have prided themselves on linebacker play for most of their illustrious history, which speaks volumes to the recruiting job of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
Muschamp was the point man in Hicks’ recruitment and not only did he do a tremendous job of selling Texas to Hicks, but selling Hicks to Brown as Hicks represents the rare out-of-state target and even more rare out-of-state catch for the Longhorns.
The recruitment of Hicks, as far as his interest in Texas, started long before he took an unofficial visit to campus for a football camp in the summer of 2008.
Hicks, who was born in Colorado and resided in South Carolina before moving to Ohio, said early on in the process that Texas was his favorite team growing up. Being one of the top linebackers in the country and with his feelings on the Longhorns, it was a shock to very few that Texas offered Hicks as soon as the staff sent out offers for 2010 prospects.
Things remained quiet for Hicks as the offers piled up and just about every program with a pulse across the country sent an offer to Hicks as fast as they could in an attempt to get a leg up on the competition.
As the offers came in so did the calls – from coaches, from media members and from anyone wanting a piece of Hicks’ time. With such a high volume of phone calls coming through the football office and to Hicks’ cell phone, Lakota West officials took the approach of conducting weekly conference calls for media members to get one opportunity per week to speak with Hicks about football, recruiting or anything that popped up in the roughly 30 minutes every Monday during the football season.
Hicks formed a top six right before the start of his senior season but when the conference calls started the list quickly became a top five as Georgia was the first school eliminated. The schools left standing at the time were Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Southern Cal and Texas and in the midst of an All-American senior year Hicks started planning visits. His first was a trip right up the road to Columbus for Ohio State’s showdown with USC.
Following an unofficial visit to Florida in September, Hicks made his second official visit known – an early October trip to Texas to watch the Longhorns take on Colorado.
Hosted by Keenan Robinson, Hicks had nothing but positive things to say about his trip to Austin. The one thing that stood out was the hospitality he and his mother received, something Hicks said left the biggest impression on him.
“Those guys really welcomed me in and I met a lot of the players,” Hicks said. “Sergio Kindle, Sam Acho (and his brother Emmanuel), my mom and I sat down with Garrett Gilbert and a couple of the linebackers. We got to ask a lot of questions in a one-on-one setting without anyone there and they told us a lot about the program and things like that.
“The way the team and the staff welcomed me in, that was the biggest thing for me,” Hicks added. “I didn’t feel like some kid from Ohio, I felt like just another kid. They welcomed me in real well.”
With the Buckeyes, Longhorns and Gators rising to the top of Hicks’ list, things really seemed to be going Florida’s way after Urban Meyer and assistant coach Scot Loeffler were able to get Hicks back to town for an official visit in December. Not long after the visit Hicks eliminated Alabama and Southern Cal from contention leaving the final three schools alone at the top of his list.
During the week leading up to the Under Armour All-America Game the buzz was that Florida was the team to beat for Hicks despite Urban Meyer having taken a leave of absence just two days before Hicks arrived in Orlando. The standout linebacker did a great job of keeping things close to the vest but it wouldn’t be too long after that when things would take a turn against the Gators.
Hicks hosted Florida for an in-home visit in early January and reports were that Hicks was not happy that Meyer did not make the trip as Florida interim head coach Steve Addazio and several assistants made the visit. As things progressed this seemed to take Florida from the top.
Heading down the final few days of his recruitment it was looking more and more like Hicks’ decision would be coming down to a call between Ohio State and Texas and the card Texas had in its corner was the fact that Hicks’ mother seemed to like Texas.
Kelly Justice previously knew Jeff Madden when the Longhorn strength and conditioning coach worked at Colorado and Hicks said Madden and Muschamp were a big reason why Texas was so high on his list. Hicks said that his mother also enjoyed her time during the official visit to Austin.
“She had a lot of fun. She got a lot of information.” Hicks said. “She talked with the coaches and other parents. We got to meet the president of the university and his wife. We got fed a lot of information and she liked it a lot.”
Hicks’ mother and sister have long planned on moving with Jordan wherever he chose to go to school. Now Jordan and his Hfamily will be calling Austin home for the next four years.