Ohio State Buckeyes: Alter’s Hicks getting acclimated to new surroundings

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Alter grad C.J. Hicks on being a highly rated recruit for Ohio State football

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

COLUMBUS -- Now that Captain Buckeye is actually a Buckeye, what has changed for C.J. Hicks?

Not much.

He is going to school and working out to become a better football player.

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Except now instead of roaming the halls of Alter High School — like he was less than two months ago — he ‘s living on campus at Ohio State, taking classes and working out at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to keep all the guys in check, just making sure all of us communicate with each other, all of us just hang out with each other,” said Hicks, who was an early commit to the Ohio State class of 2022 and picked up the nickname, “Captain Buckeye” soon after as he worked as a liaison of sorts between the coaches and potential new recruits. “That means like going out, getting something to eat, coming here and getting some work in. No matter what it is — offense or defense — just coming here, staying together, becoming a family and part of the brotherhood.”

Hicks did a little bit of everything at Alter last season, lining up at safety, nickel, linebacker and even edge rusher at times for the Knights defense and getting almost 100 touches on offense.

He also returned kicks and punts and was named the Ohio Division III Defensive Player of the Year.

He is the No. 7 prospect in the country in the 247Sports Composite rankings and the top-rated player in Ohio State’s class, a designation he is proud of but not something he dwells on.

“At this point, it really doesn’t matter because you can be the No. 1 recruit in the country and you come here and you play horrible, you won’t even touch the field,” Hicks said.

He has already been thrown a curveball since arriving in Columbus.

Al Washington, who recruited him for the past two years as the linebackers coach at Ohio State, was one of the odd men out when head coach Ryan Day remade his defensive staff, a process that was not finalized until late January.

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Hicks said Washington had already had his first meeting of the year with the new group of linebackers before his exit occurred, but the group is rolling with the change.

They will instead be coached by Jim Knowles, who is also the team’s new defensive coordinator.

Hicks still projects as one of the inside linebackers in the Knowles’ 4-2-5 scheme.

“I understand it is a business, and Ohio State’s gonna replace good coaches with good coaches, too, so Coach Knowles has been doing a good job and all the new defensive coaches have been doing a good job, too,” Hicks said.

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