Living out a dream of playing professionally doesn’t always come true.
Pierce County High School and University of Georgia alum Quayvon Hicks is living out his dream, though, playing indoor football after being cut twice from NFL (National Football League) camps.
“It’s a blessing,” said Hicks, whose listed as 6-foot-1 and 260 lbs. on rosters, of his indoor career. “I have a degree from Georgia, but I wasn’t ready for life without football.”
Hicks, who gained national notoriety with his facemask, was a fullback at Georgia averaging 7.2 yards per rush and 11 yards per reception over his final three years. He was used sparingly on the offensive side while prepping at PCHS.
“We were spoiled being at a big school and being able to choose our facemasks,” he said with a smile as he reflected back. “I picked a couple out and then decided on that particular one. I don’t know why. At that point in life I was about 270 (lbs.) and was a bull. I felt like I could run through anything just like a Hummer.”
The mask style, where only his eyes could be seen, was being worn by a defensive lineman at Baylor and another defensive lineman player from Ole Miss. It is now outlawed by both the NCAA and NFL for safety reasons.
“I think the recognition came because I was the first one to have it on the offensive side of the ball,” said Hicks. “It wasn’t a traditional running back face mask. I had to work hard every day at practice to catch the ball because it was not easy. I could see a blocker but not the ball. Many times the coaches wanted to have it changed because I was dropping passes in practice.”
It was a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury two weeks before the Belk Bowl in 2015 against the Louisville Cardinals that changed his fortunes, literally.
Considered one of the top fullbacks in college and on many NFL draft boards, Hicks was bypassed in 2016 because of the injury. He eventually signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans shortly afterward.
“I learned the NFL was a business,” said Hicks. “My draft stock plummeted. I was invited to the (NFL) combine, but I couldn’t grasp what was going on at that time when Tennessee cut me. They (NFL teams) are only going to invest money in you if you can play. It’s nothing personal, but it’s a cut throat business.
“That showed me what the game was about at that level. I wasn’t far enough along with my rehab so they (Titans) made the decision to let me go.”
Hicks was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers January 10, 2017. He was waived August 20, 2017 as NFL teams went to 52-man rosters for the season.
“If I hadn’t suffered the ACL injury who knows what may have happened,” said Hicks, who is not bitter at the NFL. “It was a childhood dream of mine to play (NFL). That was the first time since I was six (16-year span) I wasn’t playing football, though.
“Things didn’t go the way I planned when I went down to Tampa Bay. It’s like getting to the mountain top and you start sliding down it’s side. It brings you to a humbling point in life. That’s when you have to make a decision in life of continuing to work hard everyday for the next call or moving on.”
Hicks decided to go back to work and continue to chase his dream.
“I’m back to when I was 15 and showing the grit and the grind at all those summer camps when I was a nobody,” he said. “I think you have to take full advantage of every opportunity you have, whether it’s arena football, the NFL or CFL. Of course, the NFL is the ultimate goal, and hopefully I’ll be able to get a chance to get my foot back in there.”
The hard work paid off when Hicks signed a one-year deal October 10, 2017 with the Columbus Lions for the 2018 season. He earned National Arena League (NAL) Rookie of the Year honors after finishing second in rush attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
The Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks brought Hicks in for talks after the season. Neither team, though, offered a contract.
“With my injuries,” said Hicks, “they think I’m a liability. That’s part of the business.”
Besides the ACL, Hicks has torn the lateral meniscus, suffered a PCL injury, ruptured an achilles, and has suffered a shoulder injury.
“It was easier to overcome injuries in high school and college,” he said. “As you get older it’s like “Wow, I’ve got a pain here and now I have a limp.”
Hicks played the 2019 campaign with the NAL’s Massachusetts Pirates and finished in the top-10 for every rushing statistic. Hicks was second in rushing and yards per rush, and sixth in rushing TDs.
“Quayvon has amazing athletic ability,” Pirates’ head coach Anthony Payton said during a 2019 interview after the season. “He’s a monster, literally. He’s always positive and never in a negative mood.”
A free agent after the 2019 season, Hicks signed December 13, 2019 with the Spokane Shock in Spokane, Wash. Unfortunately, the start of the 2020 season coincided with the COVID-19 shutdown in March.
“I’m probably going to re-sign, but I don’t know when,” said Hicks. “It depends on which indoor league team offers me. The NAL is more like the outdoor game and, I want to get to that next level (NFL).
“Scouts have noticed there is more to my game, though, than just being a fullback and a blocker like I was at Georgia.”
Hicks, who now calls the Houston, Texas area home, isn’t sure when he may hang up the cleats.
“My ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl.” he said. “If that was to happen next year I would retire. I will play until my body and mind tells me that’s enough and I don’t have to chase my dream any more. That’s when I’ll close that chapter of my life and move on.”
Hicks says playing collegiately and professionally is not the highlight of his life, though. He said it was being able to leave his hometown and better himself.
“There is so much more out there to see,” he said of his travels across the United States. “I want to continue learning and traveling to different cities, which is part of learning different things and cultures. That what life is about.
“If the game was taken from me today, I would be grateful and thankful for what it has brought to me. The love I show for the appreciation of what the game has brought me is genuine.
“I don’t have the wealth to change the world, but I feel like I have enough wisdom that will help with the way someone looks at things in life. Being humble is important because you don’t know who you might touch.”