By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
It was probably the best wake-up call Jordan Hicks ever got and will ever get. The current Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, then a senior at the University of Texas, was waiting to hear his name called in the 2015 NFL Draft with some friends and family at his mother’s house in Cincinnati.
“It was after 10:30 (p.m.) when the call came,’’ Hicks remembered. “A few of us were starting to doze off. Oh yeah, that woke me up for sure.’’
On the other end of the phone was a representative from the Eagles, letting him know then head coach Chip Kelly and Co. had made him the team’s third-round pick, the 84th overall selection.
“When I got that call it was pretty surreal,’’ Hicks said. “You really don’t understand, or think about, how that call is going to go. But it was an awesome feeling.’’
After all the work from the time he started playing football, through an injury-riddled career at Texas, to the draft trips and workouts to now realizing the dream of being in the NFL is an experience you have to go through to understand.
“You put so much into it,’’ Hicks said. “Playing all through college, and then working to get ready for the Combine, which isn’t even football. Then going on all the visits, meeting all the coaches and player personnel people. It’s the biggest job interview you’ll ever have.
“For me, I was kind of numb when I got the call. I was excited, for sure, but then you realize, it’s really just the beginning. Now, you’re going into a brand-new locker room as a brand-new guy. You hear stories about how tough it is to be a rookie. You’re super naive. That night you run the gamut of emotions. I was so excited. I was so happy. My family was there, they were happy for me. But you also realize the other side of it, too. As I said, it really numbed me.’’
Hicks has made the Eagles look good for taking him in the third round. He became a starter early in his rookie year before a torn pectoral muscle landed him on injured reserve. He came back in 2016 and started all 16 games at middle linebacker.
In 24 career games (21 starts), Hicks has been responsible for 12 turnovers — seven interceptions, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. That’s one every other game.
But that April night in 2015 he had no idea how it would turn out or where he would be playing.
“With the Draft you really have zero clue how it’s going to shake out,’’ he said. “My agent had told me he had some people saying maybe third (round), but maybe fourth or fifth. He told me he was going to tell me lower rounds, because in his past experiences, he saw too many guys get their hopes up and be disappointed and it ruined the whole experience. So, we erred on the side of lower rounds.
“Then all of a sudden, a bunch of linebackers started going off the board early, and that helped me.’’
The Eagles were a team Hicks thought had interest in him, but again in the NFL Draft you never know what’s going to happen until you get that call.
“(The Eagles) showed the most interest,’’ Hicks said. “But it’s hard because guys I knew from Texas told me they got drafted by a team that never even talked to them. But the Eagles were the team that I got to know the best through the whole process.’’