Fullback Rik Hicks scores as a redzone weapon

    Senior fullback Rik Hicks has three TD catches.

    Senior fullback Rik Hicks has three TD catches.
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    Sept. 26, 2013

    By DeMario Phipps-Smith
    SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - When a football team lines up in goal line formations--just inches away from crossing the touchdown plane--it is usually a more popular decision to run the ball.

    For a team to be successful from inside the 10-yard line, it must possess great willpower and the appropriate personnel. Goal line packages include players who are big, tough and have high motors. The fullback position, by definition, is often a staple in offenses for these situations and can be used in a variety of ways. Southern Illinois fullback Rik Hicks' versatility allows the Salukis to approach the goal line with an open mind and an open playbook.

    Hicks, a senior from Jonesboro, Ill. studying agricultural management, has caught five touchdown passes on seven receptions in his collegiate career and was a lead blocker for the SIU rushing attack that amassed more than 1,500 yards in each of the last two seasons. He said he doesn't focus much on his individual statistics, but would rather see the team make the plays necessary to win games.

    "I don't get to be out there or touch the ball much, but when I am, I want to give as much as I can for the team," he said. "Every time I go out there, I block as hard or catch as best as I can."

    Although fellow senior Ray Agnew typically gets the starts at fullback, Hicks gets a large number of goal line appearances. His five career touchdown grabs were all from within the five-yard line. Hicks said he likes catching touchdowns but enjoys the crowd reactions even more.

    "I'm happy with my role on the team," he said. "I love being the one to score for the team, but nothing is like seeing how the stadium explodes after a touchdown."

    Hicks didn't always play the position of do-it-all fullback. In high school he was an all-conference linebacker, defensive lineman, kicker and running back. Hicks ran for more than 2,000 yards, completed 69 of 85 PATs and tallied 218 tackles while at Anna-Jonesboro High School. He said playing multiple positions has helped him perform more effectively as full back.

     

     

    "I come from a small community so it is much more common for athletes to play at more than one spot," Hicks said. "I've learned better lead-blocking skills from my time as a linebacker because I know which holes other linebackers will likely attack when the ball is snapped. When I was playing running back, I learned what blocks needed to be made for a good running game."

    As part of a Saluki program that has been traditionally known as "Running Back U", the senior fullback said teams are often surprised when SIU elects to pass when in scoring range.

    "When I come into the game, people see me as just another big body--another run blocker," he said. "Most teams don't expect to see me go out into the flat looking for a catch."

    Although SIU has multiple leaders on both sides of the ball, Hicks said he would rather be a model for on his teammates with his performance on the field.

    "I'm not a huge vocal leader," Hicks said. "I try to lead by example and through my play on practice and Saturdays. I try to go out there and get the tough, good blocks. I'm not afraid to hit you in the mouth or put you on your back if it gives my team a chance to win."

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