After a flurry of reports as to where he might or might not be headed, Omaha (Neb.) Creighton Prep running back Stevie Hicks wasted no time in clearing up all rumors.
"I'm 100 percent to the Cyclones," he told Cyclone Illustrated today. "I've been with them the whole time."
Hicks, who is rated by some recruiting experts as the top running back in the state of Nebraska and 10th-best nationally, is still on track to sign with Iowa State on Feb. 6. He will turn down scholarship offers from the Huskers, Iowa and a host of others to play tailback.
He rushed for more than 1,900 yards last season to go along with 20 touchdowns. A work-horse back for 8-3 Creighton Prep, Hicks averaged 35 carries per game.
"I've been playing running back my whole life and obviously I didn't want to switch positions," said Hicks, who was also a highly-regarded recruit at linebacker. "I enjoy running the ball."
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder likes his chances to succeed as a running back for the Cyclones.
"The fact that they didn't recruit any running backs last year and this year made me think I had a good opportunity to step in there," he said. "They said I would have a really good chance to come in and get some time, but I might want to redshirt my first year. I'm talking to my family a little bit about it and they think it might be the best thing for me."
It would seem that Nebraska's addition of Omaha Central tailback David Horne played a role in Hicks' staying on board with ISU. But that is not the case, he says.
"That really didn't have anything to do with it," Hicks said. "I committed a while ago. I really wasn't too worried about where he was going to go."
Hicks admits that he has still had some contact with Nebraska, but has never made an official visit, instead taking a few unofficial stops. Assistant coach Dan Young has been his primary recruiter.
"They have been in touch quite a bit," Hicks said. "They've been up to the school a few times and call a lot."
When he begins freshman camp this August, Hicks will be under the tutelage of Tony Alford, ISU's running backs coach who recently returned to Ames after a one-year stint at Washington. Alford will assume his former post, while last year's position coach Mike Grant switches over to receivers.
One concern that Hicks had with the transition was that he still remain at tailback after Grant, his primary recruiter, switches positions.
"It was mainly Mike Grant recruiting me and then Tony Alford came in at the very end since he's going to take over the running backs," Hicks said. "At first when I found out that Mike Grant was switching positions, I thought they were going to move me to the defensive side of the ball and I was upset about it. But when I talked to Coach Alford, everything was fine."
Similar to the role departed Ennis Haywood filled on offense, Hicks believes he can eventually shoulder the load of ISU's attack.
"I think I can be a work-horse running back," he said. "I like Eddie George and Jerome Bettis the best, the bigger backs. They're tough and always go 100 percent. Then I have the break-away speed, too."
Hicks is one of two eastern Nebraska preps that will be headed to Ames next fall. Millard North defensive lineman Nick Leaders is the other. The two plan to work out in Ames during the summer in anticipation for their first season of D-I ball.
"Nick Leaders and I will be going down there to work out," Hicks said. "I'm not sure when we're going to
be starting down there. We'll probably come back and forth. I've known Nick for a while, ever since my freshman year. We talk every once in a while. Every once in a while we'll hang out."
From what he's seen of Leaders (in photo), Hicks believes that the talented interior lineman has a chance to be a big-time player at ISU.
"I think that Leaders might play next year," Hicks said. "When we played him, he was in the backfield every time before I even got the ball. He just nailed me. He's a pretty good hitter. I didn't get a chance to make him miss, he was back there so fast. He'd just kill us."
Hicks and Leaders are two members of what expected to be a 27-member recruiting class of 2002. Two of the newcomers, wide receiver Jon Davis and offensive lineman Kory Pence, are commitments from previous years.