When health was on his side, Jordan Hicks lived up to his billing

Drew Lieberman

Senior linebacker Jordan Hicks has been through it all.

High expectations? Check. He signed with the Longhorns as a five-star recruit and was a member of a highly touted recruiting class signed on the heels of Texas’ loss in the 2010 BCS Championship game.

Losing seasons? Check. He played in all 12 games during Texas’ disastrous 5-7 2010 campaign.

Coaching changes? Check. In his five seasons at Texas, he has played for four different defensive coordinators, including recently fired Florida head coach Will Muschamp his freshman year.

Injuries? Check. He suffered a season-ending hip injury in the third game of 2012 and tore his Achilles in the fourth game of 2013. These difficulties staying on the field in recent seasons have put in perspective the importance of staying healthy.

“It’s something I cherish every time I go out there is my health,” Hicks said. “It’s a blessing to be out there playing, feeling as good as I am.”

All of these experiences have culminated into the Texas defense relying on Hicks’ awareness to put them in position to succeed.

“What’s great for us on defense is you have Hicks, and Hicks is kind of the leader,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He lines up everyone, gets everybody in position.”

But this season, he has made a more obvious impact on the box score. Through Texas’ 12 games, Hicks recorded a team-high 140 tackles, which is one away from 10th place on Texas’ single-season list.

Of the 136 tackles he has made, 74 of them were non-assisted, which is one more than he recorded in his first four seasons at Texas. His improved abilities to tackle in the open field are partially responsible for the senior’s stats.

“Everybody’s trying to get linebackers in space and create that mismatch, especially with wide outs, but I’m confident in my ability,” Hicks said. “I just play. I try to take good angles, really on my pursuit.”

Hicks ranks fourth on the team in interceptions with two and second in tackles for loss with 13, in addition to 3.5 sacks on the season. His versatile contributions do not go unnoticed by his teammates.

“He’s in every play, and he’s a leader for us, and we’re just proud to have him this year,” senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “He’s been a tremendous boost to the whole team. “

Although Hicks likely would qualify for a sixth year of eligibility, it does not seem like that it is something he will pursue. On Monday, a tweet indicated that he accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, meaning that his Longhorn career will likely conclude in the team’s bowl game.