Beware of Hicks
The Rams’ defensive lineback
Akiem Hicks, a member of the University of Regina Rams, jokes that on Sundays during the football season, his family knows where they can usually find him; stationed on the couch watching the game he loves.
According to Hicks, his affinity for football is nothing new.
“It was always an ambition of mine to play football, but I couldn’t play when I was younger, because I was always too big,” recounted Hicks, who now stands at six-foot-five and weighs in at over 300 pounds. “I started playing football in my freshman year of high school.”
From there, Hicks has yet to look back.
After a number of successful seasons at Del Campo High School in his native California, Hicks soon realized he could potentially excel on the field.Following two standout campaigns at Sacramento City Community College – a NCAA Division II program – Hicks was heavily recruited by several top-tier schools across the United States.
Hicks agreed to take his talents to Louisiana State University. However, minor recruiting infractions resulted in a full-blown NCAA investigation of LSU’s recruitment practices, and Hicks never got to play a game with the Tigers.
Ultimately, Hicks would travel to the Great White North to play at the University of Regina, where he has established himself as one of Canada’s most dominant defensive lineman over the course of the past two seasons.
In Hicks’ first year with the Rams, he forced a pair of fumbles and recorded 1.5 quarterback sacks. During the 2011 campaign, Hicks led Canada West with 6.5 sacks and was named the division’s nominee for the J.P. Metras Trophy, which is given annually to Canada’s top lineman.
The next step in Hicks’ football journey is the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Flo., Jan. 21, where the standout defensive lineman is set to showcase his talents on the gridiron.
Held annually since 1925, the East-West Shrine Game is regarded by many as one of the United States’ most anticipated all-star games.
Although the contest is an American football game, players from the Canadian university football system have annually been invited to participate since the mid 1980s. In the past decade, former Rams Jason Clermont, Brendon LaBatte, and Jordan Sisco have represented the U of R.
Over the course of the past 85 years, more than 60 Pro Football Hall of Fame members – not including future inductees like Tom Brady and Brett Favre – have participated in the game.
Net proceeds from the event, which is sponsored by the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, are earmarked to some of the fraternal group’s charitable enterprises, including the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children.
The significance of the game – in which several legendary defensive linemen have played in over the years – isn’t lost on Hicks.
“It’s such a long history, such a deep history,” noted Hicks, 22. “I’m proud even to be invited. To be thought of and for them to want me to be a part of this game is an honour.
“It was something that was unexpected and something that I’ve been looking forward to since I got the news.”
Hicks, who is one of three CIS player-representatives set to make the trip south of the border in the coming weeks, is hoping to make the most of his time in Florida, where delegates from all 32 National Football League squads are to congregate.
“This is basically a tryout,” Hicks said with a laugh. “I’m not going to do anything but attempt to bring my A-game. I feel it’s a great opportunity to showcase my talents for the game.”
Looking past the East-West Shrine Game, Hicks intends on playing football on Sundays ¬– instead of watching the game from his couch – in the near future.
“My biggest goal is to play at the next level,” said Hicks, who passed on a contract offer from the Toronto Argonauts to finish his degree in business marketing in Regina.
“Every person that straps on a pair of football pads has dreams of playing at that level,” Hicks said. “Whether they’re from Canada or Sacramento, California, they have that same dream. I hope that I’m able to accomplish it.”