Under the weather with strep throat, Lakota West star linebacker Jordan Hicks was unable to attend today’s weekly teleconference but Firebirds head coach Larry Cox was on hand and fielded questions from the media.
Of course, the topic of the day was Hicks’s first official visit to Ohio State this past weekend.
As it turns out, Jordan Hicks is human after all.
The West Chester Lakota West star linebacker – and the nation’s No. 2 player
according to ESPN Scouts Inc. – did not attend his weekly
teleconference Tuesday morning as he remained home battling a bout of strep throat.
Instead, Firebirds head coach Larry Cox fielded the
questions from the media.
“He feels bad for missing this,” Cox said. “I’m going to
take the heat for it but I told him to stay home and I think he needs that
rehabilitation time to let his body heal and let his mind be right.”
Of course, the main focus of the teleconference was Hicks’
first official visit this past weekend to Ohio State as he witnessed the
Buckeyes 18-15 loss to Southern California in front of an Ohio Stadium record
crowd of 106, 033 fans.
“He was impressed by how hard both teams played. You look
at the game itself and everybody played hard to the end. I think there were some
people that were feeling like it might not be that good of a game but I was
impressed with it,” Cox said.
Ohio State sophomore defensive end and Lakota West product
Solomon Thomas hosted Hicks on the visit.
“When I talked to Solomon Sunday morning, he said it went
great,” said Cox. ”He had a great visit meeting a lot of different people.
“Getting to the school itself was a big deal for him
because there were things that he has never seen up there. Typically on his
visits, he would go to the stadium and the (Woody Hayes Athletic Center). Now,
he is getting to see and meet other people that are associated with the school
outside of athletics and I think that impressed him as well. So, he got a feel
for what the school was about.”
But as a blue-chip prospect recognized on the national
level, Hicks’ visit didn’t come without plenty of attention.
“Solomon said it was tough for (Hicks) to go places,” said
Cox. “What impressed him is they knew his name prior to meeting him. They were
calling him by name and he’s going, ‘How do these people know me, Coach?’
Hicks’ mom, Kelly Justice, has been an integral part of her
son’s recruitment and was impressed as well, according to Cox.
“(She) was really taken back by some of the people who knew
his first name already without formally meeting them,” he said. “That is some
star power that he possesses but it doesn’t get to him.”
Justice got particularly emotional when she and Hicks made
the traditional walk with the Ohio State team from the Blackwell Hotel to St.
John’s Arena for the Skull Session before the game.
“She actually teared up for how much they were yelling for
Jordan,” said Cox. “Young kids were coming up and high-fiving him and people
wanted his autograph. She never experienced anything like that and it was real
emotional for her.
“That was the first part (of the visit) that grabbed her.”
Aside from the fervor for her son, Justice was impressed
with the staff and school as a whole and knows what she wants to see from a
university vying for him.
“She was really comfortable with the visit talking with the
coaches and she has a good feel for the coaches,” Cox said. “The schools that
are left in Jordan’s list are all great football schools but the biggest thing
that she wants is to make sure it’s a staff that is going to help finish the job
of becoming the man that she wants him to become.
“No matter where he goes at this point, the football is
going to be great and the school is going to be great but (she) wants to make
sure that when he leaves, he’s the type of man that (she) wants (him) to become.
That is the biggest feel she is trying to get right now.”
While Hicks and his mom were in Columbus to visit Ohio
State, he liked the showing USC put on in the win.
“As far as Southern Cal goes, I think he was impressed with
the swagger that they bring into the stadium,” Cox said. “It was that ‘us
against the world mentality’ and he respects guys that have confidence like that
and that appeals to him.”
USC is one of the schools on Hicks’ final list but an
official visit has not been scheduled yet. NCAA regulations prevented USC from
having any contact with Hicks during his official visit with Ohio State but
former NFL veteran and USC linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., who is recruiting Hicks, told Cox to expect
more attention from the Trojans program in the near future.
“Just coming away and watching Southern Cal and how they
did things and their overall attitude, I think that is appealing to (Hicks),”
Hicks has an official visit set up with Texas for the
weekend of Oct. 10 and is finalizing plans for an official visit to Florida.
Alabama and Georgia round out the final cut of schools.
“There is a great amount of respect and professionalism
from all these schools and they’re handling it very, very well,” said Cox.
Hicks tallied four tackles last week in a 35-7 road win
over Kettering Fairmont. For
the season, Hicks has
tallied 21 tackles (13 solo), a sack and an interception.
Lakota West (2-1) will host Hamilton (1-2) this week in the
Greater Miami Conference opener.
“Going into the GMC is a big deal for us,” Cox said. “I
always call our first three games preseason games and I tell them the real
season starts in Week 4 when we head into the league.
“It’s a different level. We have the most competitive
league in the State of Ohio and I’ll never back down from that statement. So,
you’ve got to bring you’re ‘A-Game’ each and every week because if you don’t
someone can make you look real bad.”
So, will Hicks suit up Friday against the Big Blue given
his recent illness?
“I hope,” Cox said. “You’d like to think that the
antibiotic will kick in and clear his throat up. Knowing him he would find a way
to practice today but I told him I would rather have him 100 percent (for
“I would say, right now, he is probable.”
* * *
The Hicks Report Archive
Sept. 8, 2009 –
First official visit to feature Troy’s invasion of Columbus
Aug. 30, 2009 –