Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks arrived from Ohio in 2010 as the country's top-ranked high school linebacker, stiff-arming offers from Alabama, USC and Ohio State. But injuries have cost him 19 games over the past two years, and he enters his final season in Austin with urgency. "I've got one shot to live up to who I know I am," he says, "and prove myself to everyone else."
In the Longhorns' 2011 Holiday Bowl win over California, Hicks flashed promise with eight tackles, a sack and a pass breakup. Then the injuries hit. Hicks suffered a groin pull at Ole Miss that ended his '12 season in the third game. In '13 he ruptured his left Achilles against Kansas State in the fourth game and didn't return until summer. Hicks, who was UT's leading tackler before the Achilles tear, says playing on a rolled ankle may have contributed to the injury. "I wouldn't take the decision back," he says. "It's who I am."
Texas went 8--5 last year, but those five losses were by an average of 21.6 points, and the team finished 83rd in rush defense. Hicks, now in his fifth year in Austin, hopes to revive the Longhorns' defensive swagger and his own prospects. "It's do or die," Hicks says. "I think I do well under pressure."
JOHN ALBRIGHT/ICON SMI (HICKS)