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Dan Hicks, defensive end: Florida State football preview 2013

Caleb Helpling

Dan Hicks | #6 | 6'4 260 | Defensive end | RS-SR

Florida State football kicks off on Labor Day at Pitt. Tomahawk Nation previews the season up until that date by analyzing every key player and other issues facing the 2013 Seminoles.

School bio via media guide

2012: Moved to tight end, Missed the entire season after sustaining a knee injury during fall camp.

2011: Redshirt sophomore who backed up Brandon Jenkins at right defensive end...a valuable member of FSU's deep defensive line rotation...played in all 13 games for the Seminoles registering 16 tackles...tallied 4.5 tackles for loss on the season...also had a pass break-up to his credit...registered a career-high two tackles for loss against Charleston Southern...twice matched his single-game high with three tackles (Charleston Southern, Clemson)...recognized with one of four community service awards given out at the end of spring practice 2012.

2010: Redshirt freshman who backed up All-American Brandon Jenkins at right end and played well registering 18 tackles (13 solo) in 13 games...contributed three tackles for loss and two sacks...earned first career sack against BYU...posted a career-high three tackles in road win at Miami.

2009: Spent his redshirt season excelling on the practice field, earning Defensive Scout Team Co-MVP honors.

PERSONAL: Flew under the radar as a recruit after a broken foot cost him half of his senior season...earned only a two-star rating...caught 18 passes for 285 yards as a junior tight end...earned all-district honors as a junior and was a second-team all-region outstanding athlete who was a double-figure scorer on the basketball court as a junior and senior...was a standout on the track & field team at Oxford, where he hurdled and competed in the throw events...the son of former FSU standout defensive lineman Dan Footman...chose FSU over Arkansas State...born December 7, 1990.

FSU legacy. Team player. Hard worker. Injury prone. Natural ability. Unproven. College graduate. Being counted on to play big role in 2013.

That's what came to mind when I thought of Dan Hicks.

FSU's bio on Hicks is pretty accurate. On defense in 2010 and 2011, he flashed solid athleticism in a big frame. But he didn't play very much, due to the incredible talent Florida State had at the position (three players who were locks to be picked in the top-50 had stayed healthy).

In 2012, Florida State brought back all three of those eventual NFL players, and to it, added two five-star defensive end recruits in Mario Edwards and Chris Casher. Given the tremendous depth on the defensive line, and the need for help on the offensive side of the ball (FSU had the 50th ranked offense nationally in 2011), Hicks agreed to move to tight end.

Unfortunately, Hicks blew his knee before ever playing a game at tight end. It's even more unfortunate given the fact that he would have played some in 2012 at defense end, with Mario Edwards Jr. coming in overweight, and Chris Casher suffering a leg injury leading to a red-shirt.

With the departure of Werner, Carradine and Jenkins to the NFL, Hicks moved back to defensive end, which is suddenly a position of great uncertainty.

What a difference a year makes. In 2012, FSU didn't have much need for Dan Hicks at defensive end. In 2013, not only does Florida State need Hicks at defensive end, but it needs him to play 300+ snaps at defensive end.

Entering spring ball, I wrote this about Hicks:

Hicks is coming off microfracture knee surgery, after he was injured shortly after moving to tight end to begin the year. He's back, but nobody knows how well he will play coming off that injury. Early reports have been promising, however, and everyone is rooting for a selfless kid who moved positions to help the team in 2012, only to be injured before the season began.

If spring ball and a strong offseason is any indication, Hicks might be able to deliver. Hicks is set to graduate before the season starts, and is in good shape. The listed weight of 260 pounds is not sloppy.

Florida State's defense is expected to be extremely multiple in 2013, both because that's what Jimbo Fisher wants new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to do, and because FSU will have to be more multiple to create a pass rush in the wake of the defensive losses it suffered.

Hicks is listed by Florida State as a starter opposite of Mario Edwards, Jr. In the new defense, at least one defensive end could be asked to stand up and rush the passer from a two-point stance -- something resembling a 4-3 look. Edwards Jr. is not that player. Hicks could be. In fact, FSU needs Hicks to be an effective pass rusher coming off the edge.

If Hicks can give Florida State 300+ quality snaps of being solid against the run and good rushing the passer, I have to think Florida State would be very pleased, and it would be a fine sendoff for the fifth-year player.

Note (and correction) from ricobert1:

Dan Hicks could be eligible for a medical redshirt extension (i.e., sixth year of eligibility) in 2014:

If the student-athlete has two or more seasons of medical redshirt because of an injury or illness (or one season of medical redshirt and one season of medical hardship), the Compliance Office can file for an extension of the five-year clock (a sixth year) only after the student-athlete has reached the end of the existing five-year clock.

Unfortunately, this is false. "Sixth year" cases require pretty extenuating circumstances. Per Bryan W. Smith, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP from the College Trainer's Athletics Society blog:

A similar request is to waive the five-year period of eligibility and extend a sixth year. This requires two out of five years of circumstances beyond the control of the student-athlete. An incapacitating medical circumstance would be one example of a qualifying condition. A voluntary redshirt year would not.