- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor's note: Over the next couple of weeks, we'll clean out our notebook from Georgia's spring practice to tell the stories we didn't get to before the Bulldogs' G-Day game. Today we begin with fullback Quayvon Hicks.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Quayvon Hicks played little as a true freshman in 2012, but it wasn’t exactly for the typical reason that plagues a college football newcomer.
Hicks admits that his knowledge of Georgia’s playbook was adequate, but his confidence was lacking. The fullback believes that prevented him from playing with the physicality one might expect from a 270-pound player at his position.
Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo sat Hicks down this spring to discuss that very issue, and it had an effect on the rising sophomore.
“I was more trying to impress coaches instead of getting out there and playing like I look basically,” Hicks recalled. “Coach Bobo, he always stressed that, and everyone understood. He called me out and he was like, ‘You look like the Hulk, but you’re playing like basically a Powerpuff Girl.’ It was something that I needed. Coming from him, he pushes us to the limit. I think he’s a great offensive coordinator and he brings the best out of us.”
The Bulldogs weren’t even halfway through spring practice when Hicks recalled that conversation with Bobo and similar talks with running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who told him to concern himself less with making mistakes and more with playing at full speed.
However, Hicks said he had already sensed that his coaches were becoming more satisfied with his improved intensity.
“Not much has been said. The facial expressions, you can tell,” Hicks said. “But you can tell he’s not satisfied with where I’m at now. I’m at a point now where I just want to be better and progress from now until the fall.”
Bobo might not have told him he was gaining confidence in the young fullback, but Bulldogs coach Mark Richt singled out Hicks after one of the team’s last spring practices. And last week at the UGA Day meeting in Macon, Richt agreed that Bobo’s pointed criticism seemed to help Hicks move closer to realizing his potential.
“He’s very athletic and he’s strong and he started striking people with a little different kind of attitude,” Richt said. “A year ago I’m saying, ‘This kid just isn’t sure.’ It’s hard to play physical when you’re not sure.
“And fullback, you’ve got to read blocking schemes as good as the runner does because it isn’t like you’re only going to go through the B hole. If something happens, you’ve got to make the move and make the block and all that kind of thing. So I think now that he knows more, and Mike giving him a little motivation probably helped him.”
The fullback depth chart opened a bit for Hicks when senior Zander Ogletree left the team in the offseason. Sophomore Merritt Hall, who started six games last year, remains on the roster and will serve as Hicks’ primary competition for playing time.
But instead of overtaking Hall on the depth chart, Hicks’ ongoing mission to play with confidence still might be his biggest obstacle. He now seems to be on the right road in that regard, and knows that progress must continue.
“I think my thing was I knew the playbook, but as far as playing fast, I’d get in there and I’d second guess myself, second guess myself,” Hicks said. “I know I’m going to make mistakes now, so I’ve just got to play faster and get better every day.”