Bob Wager

Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks became the fifth high school junior to pledge to play for Texas earlier this month. Hicks averaged nearly eight yards per carry and scored 26 touchdowns last year (Photo courtesy of Kyle Hicks).

Ever since Kyle Hicks was young, he has been a fan of the Texas Longhorns. Now, he has made the decision to become one.

Hicks, a junior running back from Arlington Martin High School committed to Texas Feb. 18 after visiting campus on the first junior day held by the Longhorns the previous weekend. He became Texas’ fifth commit.

“I made my decision based on where my heart was,” Hicks said. “And I really liked UT and my heart was there. It felt like home there.”

As a junior, Hicks rushed 217 times for 1,667 yards and 26 touchdowns. But when he arrives in Austin, he will join an impressive group of backs that includes Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray.

But that competition does not concern him. In fact, he is happy about it.

“I love the competition,” Hicks said. “People always ask me ‘What are you doing? They already have good running backs.’ But you know what? I don’t care. I love competition.”

Hicks believes the running backs at UT will help him improve.

“Why not go where you know your teammates can make you better?” Hicks said. “They’re good and I can’t wait to play with them.”

Hicks also received offers from Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Notre Dame, Arkansas, San Diego State and Michigan. Among those, he seriously considered TCU, A&M and Arkansas. But he said he knew that the coaching program at Texas could make him the best player he could be.

Martin head coach Bob Wager is impressed with Hicks’ ability on and off the field. He said Hicks is the epitome of a team player. Like Hicks, Wager believes the competition at back will help Hicks improve.

“He will be the first to tell you that he regards the current roster of backs as among the elite in the nation,” Wager said. “There was never anything in our discussions that made that a factor that he shied away from — quite the opposite in fact. His goal is to play with the best teammates that he possibly can and compliment their talents to help the Longhorns win.”

Wager said he has great vision and balance. In addition, he is fast and strong. But he has more than just the athletic abilities to be successful.

“When you have the rare combination of your most talented player who is also your hardest worker, that’s the separating factor,” Wager said.

While at junior day, he talked to various recruits Celina High School offensive lineman Jake Raulerson, Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver. He and Raulerson keep in touch every day. Hicks is excited to get to Austin and start playing with his future teammates.

“They can all play well and I like the way they play,” Hicks said.

He has developed a strong relationship with co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and co-recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers. Hicks and Applewhite talk frequently and the two have developed a great relationship.

This season, Hicks attended his first UT game when the Longhorns defeated Texas Tech. Hicks loved the stadium and the environment there.

“I took a picture at the game and it’s my screensaver on my phone,” Hicks said. “I just looked around and I couldn’t believe how many fans were there. I really liked it.”

He believes that the current team is very strong, but with the commits for the class of 2012 and his class, he thinks the team can win a Big 12 championship and potentially a national championship.

But Hicks will finish his high school career with the goal of winning a state championship.

“I know that I will become a great football player if I go play football there,” Hicks said.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: Highly productive tailback Hicks doesn't mind a crowded backfield