FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Hicks glanced around the room during TCU’s first offseason team meeting and figured it out quickly.
“You look at all the seniors that are gone and think, man, this is a new team,” Hicks said. “This year it was kind of weird. I’m looking around and thinking, ‘I’m an oldhead now.’”
He didn’t see many guys who were on the team back when he arrived in 2013. The Horned Frogs have seven scholarship seniors this year. Guys like Hicks, a fourth-year junior running back, have to take over this team now.
So he wasn’t surprised when Gary Patterson told players this spring their motto for 2016 is “Turn the Page.” The show goes on. For Hicks, that will mean stepping into the spotlight. His page is mostly blank.
Ask him to name his best moment of his sophomore year and he’ll point to a 21-yard touchdown run at Texas Tech, his first career score in Big 12 play. Soon after it, Hicks realized he hadn’t visited the end zone in nearly three years.
Hicks suffered a torn left ACL and meniscus at the end of his senior season at Arlington Martin High. That forced him to redshirt as a freshman in 2013. He said he didn’t really feel 100 percent healthy until the bowl practices leading up to TCU’s Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Ole Miss to end the 2014 season.
In two seasons as Aaron Green’s understudy, Hicks rushed for 422 yards on 101 carries. He always admired how much emotion Green played, how all-in he went when he played. He thinks he can bring that same passion.
“In the three years I’ve been here, I’ve always kind of been sitting back, soaking up notes from the running backs before me,” Hicks said. “So this is a challenge I’m ready for.”
He’s never rushed for more than 53 yards in a game or received more than 11 carries. Patterson said TCU coaches tried to keep Hicks’ workload somewhat light this spring, in the hopes it’ll help his endurance this fall.
“The longer he goes, the better he’s done,” Patterson said.
Hicks will get help this year from a good collection of backs – Shaun Nixon, Trevorris Johnson, Sewo Olonilua, Darius Anderson – but this is his chance to be the Frogs’ workhorse back and one of their most important leaders.
Green and his fellow seniors set a high standard. This next group isn’t getting as much hype, Hicks says, but he knows they can put up the same numbers.
“Knowing we have a pretty young squad, somebody has to step up and lead us. Not saying we don’t have any leaders, but I want to be that guy,” Hicks said. “I want to help this team win football games. I know what it takes now to be successful here. I want to make sure this program stays on the right track.”