I was investigating some prospects today and I stumbled upon another player who you could say has taken the road less traveled on his way to next week’s combine. His college career began at Sacramento City Community College where he made quite a name for himself by developing into one of the most highly sought after JUCO players in the country. After receiving a plethora of scholarship offers from some big-time colleges, he finally decided that he wanted to get a chance to wreak havoc in the SEC by choosing LSU over Oregon, Arizona, and Tennessee. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to show what he could do in the SEC because he became involved in a recruiting scandal. At this point, he could have transferred to another division I college, only to sit out a year according to NCAA rules. But, he chose instead to travel north of the border to the University of Regina, where he promptly dominated his last two years of eligibility by posting 66 tackles, 8 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 pass break-ups in only 17 games. If you are interested in finding out who this prospect is, what position he plays, and where the Panthers could ultimately draft him, meet me after the jump.
If you haven’t already heard of him, let me introduce you to Akiem Hicks, a mammoth sized defensive tackle who can stands 6’5”, and weighs in at about 324 lbs. An added bonus to his game that you will notice in the video is the fact that he can play extremely well at the defensive end position, which is very astonishing for a player his size. He's actually already managed to make a pre-combine splash by impressing the scouts at the East-West Shrine Bowl practices, and in the game itself by getting a couple of quarterback hits. Hicks has very fast hands, and is surprisingly quick on his feet for a man his size. Amazingly, he has the wingspan of seven footer(84 inches), and his arms are fittingly 35 inches long. More importantly, any character concerns he may have displayed in the past have been left behind to the tune of maturity and mentorship. While he was excelling on the football field, he was also spending part of his spare time encouraging some of the young players on a local high school team in Regina. In fact, our very own Carolina Panthers have already taken notice of him by showing serious interest in him at the aforementioned East-West Shrine Bowl. Over the last couple of weeks, some of us(myself included) have been anxiously touting Michael Brockers as a possible number one pick for the Panthers in the upcoming 2012 draft, but maybe we’ve had our eyes on the wrong former LSU defensive tackle. Maybe the Panthers should strongly consider taking a less proven player like Hicks in the 4th or 5th round rather than taking a bigger leap of faith in the first round on another raw player like Brockers. Perhaps this is something they’ve already been considering, and I, for one, would be completely fine with that strategy. What about you? Let me know how you feel in the poll after watching the following video.