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Monday, December 3, 2012
What Kyle Hicks flipping means for Texas

By Max Olson

Kyle Hicks’ decision to flip to TCU leaves Texas in a bit of a tough spot.

The Arlington (Texas) Martin running back had been committed to Texas since February and was really the only true tailback the Longhorns seriously pursued during the spring.

His decision to decommit and go with the Horned Frogs is a bit of a surprise, but certainly an understandable one.

Hicks is close friends with star TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, a fellow Martin grad, and the program is in a better position to guarantee Hicks will get carries right away. Texas just can’t offer that right now.

True freshman Johnathan Gray has rushed for 683 yards and emerged as the back of the future for the Longhorns offense. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are battling for carries behind him, and UT also has speedy running back/receiver Daje Johnson -- a former TCU commit -- to get the ball to.

Texas had enough trouble getting all of them reps when the entire unit was healthy this season. It’s not hard to see why Hicks would be skeptical about his opportunities in Austin.

He’s now the Horned Frogs’ top-rated verbal commit, and he’ll get a chance to compete with Waymon James, B.J. Catalon and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green for snaps next fall.

Hicks tore his ACL last month and has overcome several more injuries during the past two seasons. Texas would’ve benefited greatly from getting to stash Hicks and redshirt him, but he opted to stay closer to home.

His absence from this 14-man Texas class does leave a hole that won’t be easy to fill. The only other back UT has offered, Dontre Wilson, has no interest in backing out of his Oregon pledge. Texas’ coaching staff hit the trail on Monday, and it appears new running backs will need to be evaluated.

All five of the state’s four-star running backs prospects -- Hicks, Keith Ford, Jamel James, Corion Webster and Adam Taylor -- have already made commitments.

Texas is still working from a position of relative strength going forward. The Longhorns have pledges from two 2014 backs, Houston Eisenhower’s Donald Catalon and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints running back/fullback Daniel Gresham.

Several more running backs have also picked up offers for next year’s class, including New Orleans St. Augustine’s Leonard Fournette and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman’s Nathan Starks.

Because of those two commits, Texas could get away with not taking a running back pledge for this class. But as Hicks reminded us Monday, a commitment -- no matter how long it’s held -- doesn’t guarantee anything until that letter of intent gets signed.