You would, however, want to avoid him - especially between the white lines.
An imposing 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior linebacker for the Palmyra football team, Hicks is actually a seemingly humble, unassuming sort off the field. But put a helmet and shoulder pads on him and send a ball carrier in his direction and, well, get ready for a collision.
Hicks, you see, likes to tackle people. Aggressively. Angrily, even.
Hey, it's worked out well so far. The Cougars' middle linebacker has a full-ride scholarship to the University of Connecticut and is the
"Linebacker is a real physical position, and I feel like my strength is my physicality, so that's a perfect fit for me," Hicks says. "You gotta be relentless, ruthless. You gotta play angry out there all the time. You just gotta go after it. I feel like when you play physical you're always at the top of your game."
The top of Hicks' game this season has the potential to reach quite a considerable altitude, which is saying quite a bit considering the heights he's already reached on the gridiron. As a junior, he accumulated 138 tackles in just nine games, an average of 15.3 per contest. In addition, the
The highlights of Hicks' junior campaign were 19-tackle performances in losses to Steel-High and East Pennsboro and an 18-stop effort in a season-ending victory over Milton Hershey.
That kind of production cannot be attributed only to the Palmyra star's size and fierce on-field attitude. Hicks, you see, also has the kind of wheels that most 235-pounders could only dream of.
"He's a very physical player. That's his hallmark, his physicality," Palmyra coach Chris Pope said. "He can come downhill (toward the line of scrimmage), but he's also a linebacker who can go sideline to sideline. You get those middle linebackers sometimes that can go tackle to tackle, and those are nice. But it's really nice when you have somebody that can go sideline to sideline. He has the speed to track people down outside the box."
"In midgets I was a center, and then up through middle school I started playing middle linebacker," Hicks said. "My head coach in middle school moved me to linebacker. I played defensive end the year before that but I got too big and I was kinda faster than everybody else, so he moved me to
And Hicks hasn't looked back since. Neither have Pope and his staff, who've seen their middle linebacker blossom from a raw, if wildly promising, freshman that played outside 'backer as a ninth-grader into a physically and mentally tough senior leader. And one who doesn't appear to have reached his performance ceiling yet.
"Last year, obviously, he was good," Pope said. "But I think this year what you see is just a better understanding of the entire game. I think he reads (plays) quicker, you can tell he's a player that's gonna be playing at the next level. He's just going a little bit faster than everybody else."
That's great news for UConn, which won the recruiting battle for Palmyra's man in the middle over Pitt, Maryland, Syracuse and Rutgers due in large part to the impression its new head coach, former Syracuse boss and 2010 Dallas Cowboys interim defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, made on Hicks.
"I feel totally blessed just to have the opportunity to play up there," said Hicks, who will officially sign a letter of intent with UConn in February. "One of the reasons I chose UConn is definitely the head coach, Coach Pasqualoni. I feel like he's one those coaches that's like a father figure. He'll teach you everything you need to know about football but also teach you life lessons as well. That's a huge reason why I picked them."
When Hicks finally does arrive in Storrs, Conn., he'll become just the third Palmyra football player to play at the Division I level collegiately. One of the others, ironically, is another former Cougar linebacker, Joe Brockington, who enjoyed a solid four-year career at Notre Dame in the mid-2000s. The third is Ken Houser, who played at Maryland in the late 1950s.
While Hicks does not know Brockington personally he certainly knows of him, and is clearly proud to be in same exclusive fraternity of Palmyra football players.
"It's huge just to be in that little group, me and Joe," Hicks said. "It's like, wow, we're the only two athletes who ever went Division I in football. It's amazing when you think about it."
The only thing that Hicks would enjoy more than that individual recognition is the team glory that would come with being part of the first Palmyra team to qualify for the District Three playoffs.
That's the ultimate goal of this year's Cougar squad, which went 6-4 a year ago and narrowly missed out on a coveted postseason bid.
"I think we're definitely really solid," Hicks said in assessing Palmyra's prospects for success this fall. "Our senior class, we've been playing together since midgets, we're a tight group. If we're gonna do it, this is the year to do it."
If the Cougars are indeed successful in that quest, it will be due at least in part to their middle linebacker's tendency to tackle anyone that wanders into his area of the field.