Quayvon Hicks certainly looked the part of a Southeastern Conference fullback since he arrived on campus.
“He’s the guy you want to get off the bus first,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said prior to spring practices.
Yet as a freshman, Hicks wasn’t the first guy Bulldogs’ coaches would send into the game at fullback.
Former walk-on Merritt Hall held down the starter’s job until sustaining a several sprained right ankle against Florida.
Zander Ogletree stepped in for Hall, but he’s now off the team.
“It opened doors up for me,” Hicks said. “I took that as a place for me to step up and be that part of the offense that I could help out and make some noise myself.”
Hicks, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound sophomore from Pierce County High, has done just that in the first nine spring practices, showing a more physical presence than he did in his rookie season when he played mostly on special teams.
Georgia coach Mark Richt had finished reeling off all of the statistics from Saturday’s second spring scrimmage when he made sure to bring up Hicks’ name
“You don’t read any stats about him, but just playing some fullback (Friday), he picked up a blitz and just did it with enthusiasm,” Richt said. “He’s very physical, and he’s just starting to play a lot faster, and he’s more comfortable with the scheme. He’s just blocking extremely well, pass blocking, run blocking. He actually had a short-yardage run (Saturday) and he’s got good ball skills.”
Richt talked about Hicks in the context of how there was less separation between the starters and backups at many spots.
“I don’t want to brag too much about him, but he’s really starting to look like he could become a heck of a fullback,” Richt said.
Hicks has had more opportunity because Hall isn’t fully healthy.
Richt said Hall was dealing with an ankle injury on Saturday, but two days earlier Hall said that he didn’t practice much for a week due to a turf toe injury.
“He tried to play some, but he had a tough time,” Richt said of the last scrimmage.
Bobo said Hall, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound redshirt sophomore from Alpharetta who started six games in 2012, “has proven himself” by playing well in games last year.
“The position’s not going to be handed to him, he’s got to go to work, as well as Quyavon,” Bobo said.
“He’s a pretty much a veteran at the position,” Hicks said.
Hicks believes he has become better fundamentally at fullback this spring but says he still needs to improve on using his hands, finishing blocks and knowing who to block against certain defensive fronts.
“We push each other every day we go out there on the field with every rep,” Hall said. “We expect a lot out of each other. Yeah, we compete. We’re competing for a spot.”
One of running back coach Bryan McClendon’s goals for the spring, Bobo said, was to get Hicks ready to be a contributor.
“It’s a good thing to be able to rotate those guys in and out,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “You never know what can happen. Just like last year.”
“Fullback is a just like a hard-nosed physical position,” Hall said. “Technique has a lot to do with it. I have stuff that I need to work on. My technique’s not perfect. He does weigh a lot. That obviously helps. I think he’s doing a great job this spring. When it comes down to it, it comes down to being physical and being one of the toughest guys on the field and I think he’s shown that he can do that and I’ve shown that I can do that.”