The O-Line is a Brotherhood
By Will Conerly
Devon Hickman started his final football season at Quincy University on Thursday.
The four-year offensive-line starter wasn’t always an avid fan of the position he plays.
“It was seventh grade when my father came to me with a flyer to try out for the local football team. I went there expecting that I was going to be running the ball, and I found out soon I was going to be on the line, blocking for the person running the ball,” Hickman said.
At first, this was a tough pill for Hickman to swallow.
“Being an offensive lineman grew on me probably around 8th grade, just seeing how important the position was really gave me that mindset of ‘I’m needed, and I’m very important to the team’,” Hickman said.
This trend continued when Hickman entered high school. The Cicero, Ill., native attended Mount Carmel High School and led them to a state title his junior year.
“Being an offensive lineman made me a harder worker, more disciplined, and made me fall in love with the game,” Hickman said.
This put Hickman on the map for recruiting. The 6’4″, 305 pound linemen now realized his college dreams could come true.
“It was at a banquet for my high school football team, coach (Gary) Bass called me and said that he was interested in me, looked at my film, and thought I was an amazing player. He felt I could start right away as a true freshman, which caught my eye,” Hickman added.
The decision came soon after the high-profile recruit did some research.
“I looked up great things about the school and the football team and I knew right then and there I wanted to be a Hawk,” Hickman said.
Hickman got acclimated to the college atmosphere the summer before his freshman year. He stayed in the Student Living Center with two other of his teammates.
The true freshman, Hickman knew that it was not going to come easy.
“The first practice I was on the white team (2nd team) as the left tackle, and I was a little bummed out a first, but I knew that I was an incoming freshman I had to earn my spot as a starter, so that whole practice I had a chip on my shoulder. I felt that I bust my butt off 110% through everything,” Hickman said.
That may have been the defining moment in Hickman’s career as a Quincy University Hawk.
“The next thing I knew coach Bass says the starting brown group (1st team) and I hear ‘Devon Hickman’ my eyes shot up, I finally got my opportunity to prove to them that I should be able to start at the collegiate level right away, and from there on out I was the starting left tackle for the QU football team,” Hickman said.
Last season Hickman received all-conference recognition for his efforts at the offensive line position.
This season the offensive line and Hickman have the responsibility to lay the foundation for the newcomers.
With only 3 returning starters to the Hawks offense (Hickman, Klotz, Rosendahl) there are all new faces at the offensive skilled positions (running back, quarterback, wide receiver).
“We have to take our time and be patient with them. We cannot get mad at them for making mistakes. They are young and have not been a part of this offense for a while. Mistakes are going to happen; it is probably going to take 3 games to get those kinks out of the way. Patience will be the ultimate key for our offense,” Hickman said.
The student-athlete lifestyle is very time consuming. Finding balance is something Hickman struggled with parts of his junior year.
“It was my hardest year. I had a lot of classes that I struggled in. I had to stay after class and see a tutor almost every day,” Hickman remembered.
Hickman typically excels in the classroom but was tested like never before. He said he used skills he learned in football, such as determination and dedication, to get through his school work.
He has used that determination to stick to the promise he made to himself: graduate college and play four years of football.
Hickman’s goal is within reach.
Thursday Hickman put the uniform on for the beginning of his final season.
“The most exciting part about these past three years is the friends, brothers, and experiences, I’ve been able to go through. The o-line is basically a brotherhood. The football team is my life. If I wasn’t playing football I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Hickman asserted.