The fifth in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of ’08: Wide receiver Antoine Hicks.
Antoine Hicks Wide receiver Mansfield Timberview 6-0/190/4.69 National Rank at WR: 64 Overall State Rank: 53 Star Rating: ***
An Inside Texas conversation with Mansfield Timberview head coach Terry Cron on Antoine Hicks:
Inside Texas: Back when you were at Mart, you coached Quan Cosby, so this isn’t the first player you’ve sent to Texas.
Terry Cron: It’s neat to see your kids get an opportunity to go to the next level and you really feel good about it when they’re going to Texas to where, no doubt, they’re going to get taken care of. The coaches really, really care about them and they’re going to make them do right and get that degree and have the special touch that they have. It’s a great, great feeling as a high school coach, sending his little pups off to the big world. Really good to know they’re going to be in great hands, playing with Texas.
IT: What was the offense like with Antoine at quarterback?
Cron: Well, see Antoine being the versatile athlete that he is, I’ve always believed in having your best athlete under center, to have the ball in his hands as much as you can. But Antoine is also so good as a receiver, I’ve always had in my philosophy to have a good back-up quarterback, to have a role that’s in the first quarter and the second quarter. I did that with Antoine when he was a sophomore and he played back-up quarterback and played receiver, but I gave him quality time at quarterback and we did that this year with a kid named Dante Parker, who’s a really good athlete. With everything we did with Antoine, it really messed up some people’s defensive plans because Antoine would be at quarterback or at running back or at wide receiver. It helped to open up our offense even more. IT: Is Antoine going to play wide receiver at Texas?
Cron: I think so. I really do. He was recruited as an athlete and he played some free safety in our nickel package, he’s a punter and he’s also the onside kicker. He also can return. So he was our athlete, our utility player. He won the Utility Player of the Year in our district, obviously, with all that he did.
IT: Sounds to me a lot like you’re describing Quan Cosby.
Cron: There’s some very good similarities there. Quan is very special to me and I’m hoping that Antoine will follow in his footsteps and really excel like Quan has and Antoine has the athletic ability to do that. Only time will tell, but I’m really excited about what Quan’s done. He’s like a son and I coached him from the seventh grade all the way through his years of playing junior high all the way through high school. Antoine I’ve had since he was a freshman and it’s been neat to watch him develop as a freshman player, then making varsity his sophomore year and being able to contribute at an early age and grow and develop like he has in order to be the back-up quarterback, to be the starting quarterback these past two years and his senior year to branch off and utilize Antoine, like I said, at all these other various positions. It’s neat that he’s going to Texas and Quan’s last year can be Antoine’s first year where Quan can be a big brother to him. Quan’s a big brother to so many other players at Texas because he’s older and more mature. Antoine will have somebody I’ve coached before who can help him.
IT: Quan’s just focused on different things for most players. I remember talking to Quan about things like him taking his daughter out for Halloween and how she was dressed up as a lady bug.
Cron: Yeah, he’s had so much more mature because he’s traveled around and has the experience.
IT: How would you describe Antoine’s leadership ability?
Cron: Antoine is a guy who leads with action and very little words. He’s quiet, to himself. In one way like Quan, his actions will first lead, more than anything. Quan is more vocal and feels more comfortable in his skin to talk. Antoine isn’t as outgoing as that, but he wants to win and he’s going to be a leader by his actions more so than words. He’ll talk and pep up his team when he needs to. Of course, playing the quarterback position, that’s born in position where you better be a leader and he did a great job for us.
IT: Was there an individual moment you can think of where you realized that this Antoine Hicks kid is a really special athlete?
Cron: I’m a firm believer in track and he was a multi-sport person. He did football, basketball and track every year since he’s been here. This is the first year he didn’t do basketball, but he is doing track. He jumped 23 feet, 7 inches last year (in the long jump) and I look for him to go beyond that. I expect to see him at state running the 4×200. He triple jumps. He’s an athlete. As everybody knows, football is built on speed. He’s got the athleticism to be very dangerous. Watching him as a freshman, he was almost as tall as he is now. His hands were huge. He has great arm spread. At 6-1, he’s going to play like a 6-3. His arms are longer than most kids and his hands are bigger than most. I noticed him as soon as he showed up as a freshman, that’s the first year we opened our doors (at Timberview High School). He could throw the ball, as a freshman, almost 50 yards and now he can throw well over 50. You could just see he was special. Wasn’t hard to figure out he was going to be pretty good. I told Coach (Bruce) Chambers back then that I’ve had this freshman that is someone they’d want to really look at and they started looking at him. It’s just neat to see. I’ve got a lot of respect and a lot of faith in the coaching staff at Texas and I just know when you’ve got one of your kids going there, you’ve got a lot invested in their lives, you love to see them go somewhere they’re going to be taken care of. That’s why I’m really excited for Antoine.
IT: Assuming he plays wide receiver, have you had a chance to talk with Coach (Bobby) Kennedy about his thoughts on Antoine?
Cron: Yes. Coach Kennedy comes down and he when he talks to me he’s excited about the things Antoine can do, his arm spread, his hands, his vertical jump. Being the athlete that he is, Coach Kennedy is excited he’s going to come in an be a part of the family in the wide receiving corps.
IT: What would you say are his strengths and what advice would you give him so he can make the jump to the next level?
Cron: I would say his overall athleticism is his strength. He’s got good speed, physically he’s strong, his vertical is better than most. When he was going to play in the Under Armor All-American Game, I told him, “Now, you’re going to be around a lot of great players, but don’t go in there thinking you can’t play because you can. You’re a great athlete. You can play.” And he did. It was neat to watch him play and meet new friends from across the country and the coaches to say the good things they say about him in the way that he played, the way that he acted. I was very proud of him in that. I would say overall athleticism is a strength. At UT it’s going to be the same story. I told him, “You’re going to be around the best athletes in the country. Just work your heart out and be dedicated and focused like you’ve been all through high school.” I think he has a great passion for the game and he doesn’t get distracted by anything. He’d never miss a practice. He was always here, working to get better. That’s another thing that is similar to what Quan did. Quan never missed a practice and worked his butt off. He was never satisfied to be as good as he was. He wanted to be better and a lot of times you see an athlete that’s really talented, I’ve seen sometimes that they think, “I’m so good, I don’t have to. I’m good enough,” or they take a lazy way, but Antoine isn’t that way. Obviously when you go from football to basketball the very next day after the season ends and the next day after that you’re in track, he’s a great athlete with a great passion for athletics. Football, basketball and track are all very important in his life, but he realizes that football is where he’ll now be able to concentrate on completely and I think that will make him where he won’t be so spread thin. All the concentration will be on football and I look for him to get better. I think like any freshman, the advice I’d give Antoine is “Stay focused, keep your confidence, don’t get intimidated, listen to your coaches , just like you’ve done with me, don’t miss classes and don’t get behind.” If he’ll do those things, he’ll have the opportunity to really contribute, whenever that will be, his freshman year, his redshirt freshman year or maybe his sophomore year. The main thing is Antoine, like any athlete, they just need to give their best. They know they’re the best place they need to be. They know they’re in the best place in the country. Have faith in what’s being taught to you and be focused and have good effort and good things are going to happen to you. IT: How do you think he’s going to handle getting the complex route-running down? He’s played wide receiver for y’all, but he’s spent so much time at quarterback. Do you think this will be a strange transition to becoming a collegiate receiver?
Cron: Any time you step up to another level, you’re going to need to become more skilled. Obviously without working at receiver his whole career, he’s been spread through a lot of different things, from kick-off to a punter to a returner to a DB to a running back to a quarterback to a receiver. Now, the good thing about it, he’s got a chance to improve his skills. I’m sure he’s going to go through a transition of learning and learning the fine arts and honing the techniques that are going to have to be done. He’s not going to, I think, just go out there and have it all down, but he needs to be confident and get it done. There’s a lot of difference between being confident and cocky. It’ll be a good learning experience and he’s going to learn a lot and he’ll apply that to his athleticism and good things will happen for him and for the team he’s playing for.
IT: And it’s a transition Texas coaches have taught many times before because, as you mentioned, a lot of coaches have the philosophy of getting their best athlete under center. So a lot of Texas receivers were quarterbacks. Quan was. Billy Pittman was the quarterback for Cameron Yoe. Brock Fitzhenry, who’s coming in the Texas class this year, he’s Giddings’ quarterback. There’s quite a few.
Cron: Yeah, Coach (Mack) Brown said that, Coach Kennedy, too. A lot of their receivers were quarterbacks.
IT: It opens up the play-calling, too. Anyway, what have you seen from Antoine off the field in terms of interacting with his teammates? Because I know he’s not a big-time “Rah-rah” kind of guy. What have you seen in terms of his ability to lead players, individually?
Cron: The way he leads, he enjoys that way he plays but understands the seriousness of his role as a leader. I haven’t seen him do things like some kids. He’s never been in trouble. He goes to class. He leads by example in so many ways. He touches a lot of our kids’ lives in the way that he handles himself. Mature. Focused. He has his mind set. I think he understood the opportunity, as a youngster, to be something special. Some people have that ability. Unfortunately, they let things get in their way and distract them and get them off course. He’s positively affected a lot of our kids. His teammates have looked up to him and respected him and they’re happy for him and he’s a role model for a lot of our kids in our program. Our school’s only four years old and he’s had to grow up fast with it. I’m so glad he has because when you’re a young school, hopefully you’ll have kids who can help you in a hurry and he’s been a leader for us in all the sports he’s played. In the high level that he’s played, he’s been out front and a leader. UT Signing Day Bio: Prep All-American and all-district performer … versatile four-sport letterman who saw action at RB, WR, QB, CB, S, P/PK and on special teams … participated in the 2008 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game … a member of ESPN’s top 150 national prospects and ranked as the seventh-best athlete on the list … compiled 4,044 yards of total offense (1,688 rushing/1,922 passing/434 receiving) and accounted for 37 TDs during his prep career … rushed for 1,688 yards and 18 TDs on 285 carries (5.9 ypc), threw for 1,922 yards and 15 TDs and caught 27 passes for 434 yards (16.1 ypc) and four TDs over his final three seasons … tabbed district 4-5A Utility MVP as a senior … led the Wolves to a 9-4 record (6-1 district) and the third round of the state playoffs … notched 712 yards and 10 TDs on 99 carries (7.2 ypc) … threw for 516 yards and five TDs and caught 17 passes for 248 yards (14.6 ypc) and two TDs … also served as the team’s punter, punting 22 times for an average of 35.0 ypp … named all-district 4-5A as a junior … helped Timberview reach the state playoffs in its first season of 5A football … rushed for 617 yards and five TDs on 125 carries (4.9 ypc) and threw for 1,116 yards and seven TDs … also caught five passes for 65 yards … added 359 yards and three TDs on 61 carries (5.9 ypc) as a sophomore … also threw for 290 yards and three TDs and caught five passes for 121 yards (24.2 ypc) and two TDs … a three-year letterman in track and field … competed in 4×200 and 4×400-meter relays … holds personal bests of 21.8 in the 200 meters and 49.5 in the 400 meters … also ran hurdles with personal bests of 15.1 in the 110-meter hurdles and 40.8 in the 300-meter hurdles … is the school record holder in both the long jump (23’8”) and triple jump (46’3.5”) … also a three-year letterman in baseball and basketball … Born 12/2/88 in Fort Worth, Texas … also lived in Duncanville, Wichita Falls and Irving … full name is Antoine L.S. Hicks.