ATHENS -- Quayvon Hicks knew long before he got to Georgia that while he would start his career at fullback, he might not finish his career there. He just didn’t know he might move to a position not technically on the team’s depth chart.
That position is H-back, a hybrid of fullback and tight end, and Hicks is spending this spring at tight end in preparation for it.
“It’s a big transition, but it’s just a role I’ve gotta step into, and just contribute,” Hicks said.
Head coach Mark Richt said he has been “pleasantly surprised” with how Hicks has performed at tight end thus far, including route running and blocking on the line.
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“He’ll be a hybrid for us, because he knows both (fullback and tight end),” Richt said. “He can do either one, and the defense won’t know which one he’s doing until he lines up. So it’ll be a little bit of an advantage to us.”
In many ways, the experiment is a compliment to Hicks, a bruising and athletic talent who has had a limited role the past two seasons. He rushed for 72 yards last year and caught five passes for 67 yards in 2013.
It’s also a reflection on the confidence the staff has in Merritt Hall, the former walk-on who has finished the past two seasons as the starter. He might not be quite as flashy as Hicks, but his blocking has been more consistent.
Then there’s the depth factor. Jay Rome, the presumed starter at tight end, is out this spring after foot surgery, leaving redshirt freshman Jordan Davis as the only scholarship tight end. Signees Jeb Blazevich and Hunter Atkinson don’t arrive until the summer.
“You’ve gotta embrace it, because at this level, not only getting on the football field but being able to be used in multiple ways is a big deal,” Hicks said. “Especially if you want to make this a career or further your career. Especially with our offense, we’re a pro-style offense. So I guess it will be something that would be important in the future. But right now it’s me learning the tight end position and be able to move back, and I guess that would play out, if I would be able to go and play at the next level.”
This wasn’t exactly a shock to Hicks, who was signed as a fullback, but was told by receivers coach Tony Ball, his main recruiter, that he could be moved eventually. Hicks was listed at 257 pounds last year, but said he’s closer to the range of 260-265 now, which is about where he’d like to stay.
“Coach Ball said whatever my body grows into, or whatever is needed,” Hicks said. “Basically they want to be able to use me and be a versatile player on offense.”