Everything was on the come up for 18 year old Jordan Hicks. The senior at Lakota West High School, 30 minutes outside of Cincinnati, was not only one of the best linebackers in the state of Ohio, but one of the best defenders in High School football. He was first team All American, won the Butkus Award for the nations best linebacker, named Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the state of Ohio, Greater Miami (OH) Conference Co-Athlete of the Year and was named the 16th best high school player in the country by Rivals. Hicks was coming off of a tremendous senior season where he posted 95 tackles, 3 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and a touchdown. This dude could play. Hicks made the decision to play for the University of Texas. After all, Texas was coming off a 13 win season with their only loss coming against Alabama in the national championship. It was almost a no brainer for the Gatorade High School Player of the year to sign with Mack Brown and the Longhorns.
Jordan Hicks' freshman season was not exactly a reflection of the star player he was coming out of high school. Despite being such a high profile recruit, Hicks was a backup. Sure, he was playing behind future NFL linebackers like Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, but it was probably a bit disappointing at first. Despite him seeing limited snaps, Hicks sought to make an impact every time he saw the field. He logged 23 tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss, including an 11 tackle game against Nebraska, who was ranked number four in the country at the time. Everyone saw the player Hicks could be and he was voted to the Big 12 All Freshman team after the year.
His sophomore season it became more and more evident how talented the young linebacker was. Hicks got eight starts throughout the season and his biggest game came on the biggest stage. During Texas' bowl game against California, Hicks had 8 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for a loss as Cal only rushed for 7 (seven) yards the whole game and only passed for 195 yards. Hicks looked like an absolute star and people started buzzing about his NFL prospects heading into the offseason.
Heading into his junior season, Jordan Hicks had a ton of steam behind him. He was named to several preseason watch lists, including the Nagurski Award watch list. Things looked promising to begin the season. Jordan Hicks, now starting at linebacker, was playing great heading into the teams third game of the season, against Ole Miss. In the previous game, Hicks had 12 tackles, including two for a loss. Hicks looked poised for the season so many anticipated when he arrived at Texas.
Unfortunately, it would be cut short.
The third year linebacker went down with an injury during the Ole Miss game. Hicks seriously injured his hip flexor and the injury would sideline him the rest of the season. There was so much hope for Hicks going into the season, but it was cut short and he took a medical redshirt.
Hicks' redshirt junior year did not go as planned either. Through three games, Hicks looked back to his old self. He was flying around the field, making plays against the run and in coverage. Even in a blowout loss against Ole Miss, Hicks was the lone bright spot, leading the team in tackles. In the fourth game of the season, against Kansas State, Hicks was dominating the game with 12 tackles and three for a loss before going down with a brutal injury. The redshirt junior ruptured his achilles.
Another promising season was cut short and the year only got worse.
Before the teams bowl game against Oregon, Hicks and quarterback Case McCoy were accused of sexual assault and were immediately suspended from the team. The accuser stated she had several drinks at a bar before inviting the two Texas players back to her hotel room where, according to her, one of them assaulted her while the other watched. The investigation went on for a few weeks before the charges were eventually dropped. After which, Hicks was able to rejoin the team.
The Longhorns experienced a big change that offseason. Long time head coach, Mack Brown, stepped down from coaching the Texas football team. After over 150 wins, including a Nation Title, Brown decided to take a sanctimonious exit from the position, as his team and coaching ability were trending downward. To replace him, Texas hired former Lousiville head coach, Charlie Strong. Strong had completely changed the Louisville team during his tenure using his defensive prowess, producing three first round picks his last year with the Cardinals, including the Eagles' Marcus Smith. Strong was believed to revitalize the Longhorn's culture and infuse the team with talent and physicality that it had been lacking over Mack Brown's final year.
Hicks headed into his senior season relatively under the radar. Despite the hype from years ago, Hicks suffered two serious injuries over the course of his career and many did not think he would amount to much in terms of NFL ability. Hicks ended up having a very strong season, posting the seventh most tackles in Texas single season history (147), tied for the top on his team with 13 tackles for a loss and added two picks. Despite Texas having an underwhelming six win season, Hicks was able to make First Team All-Big 12 and Second Team All American. Quietly, Hicks was one of the best linebackers in the country, but few took notice due to how off the radar Texas was his final season.
After the season, Hicks entered the draft process relatively unknown to the draft media. Hicks made it to the Senior Bowl where he had a very strong week. Hicks "peaked" during the draft process at the combine where he had an incredibly good showing where he was arguably the most athletic linebacker in Indianapolis. However, his name continued to go unsaid.
Finally, day two of the draft rolled around.
"With the 84th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select... Jordan Hicks, Linebacker, Texas."
"Oh." Said, probably, the entire Eagles fan bases. Hell, even I was a bit perplexed.
Jordan Hicks at pick 84 clearly feels like a reach to replace Mychal Kendricks, whose name has surfaced in trade talks. Hate this pick.— Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) May 2, 2015
Hicks is considered a major reach. Missed most of 2 seasons (2012, 2013) with hip, Achilles injuries. #EaglesDraft— Dave Weinberg (@PressACWeinberg) May 2, 2015
Hicks was the 6th off ball linebacker taken in the NFL draft. It was definitely a strange pick at first. Hicks was never a bad player, he just flew entirely under the radar. Also, the Eagles had a wealth of linebackers with Mychael Kendricks, Demeco Ryans and newly added Kiko Alonso. However...
Chip said Jordan Hicks was the highest rated player by far on the board. #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) May 2, 2015
So obviously the value was just too good for Chip to pass up. On top of that, Hicks was constantly voted to the Big 12 All Academic Team and the black mark on his character was the assault allegations in which the charges were eventually dropped. Theoretically, Hicks was a perfect Chip Kelly as he was productive, athletic and had high character.
Hicks was not heard from for a while until the Eagles home opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, offseason acquisition Kiko Alonso suffered a serious knee injury and then Mychael Kendricks tweaked his hamstring in coverage, thus the rookie was thrust into action against in the second half.
How did he respond?