Joe Gaiter: What does football mean to you?
Michael Hicks Jr: Football is my first true love. It’s a stress reliever and a safe place for me to truly be myself. Growing up in a family surrounded by football all day and night, you start to see yourself making a living out of it.
Joe Gaiter: What are your fondest memories about American Heritage High School?
Michael Hicks Jr: My senior season was one that my former teammates and I still talk about to this day. We had the first undefeated season in American Heritage Plantation’s history, so that meant a lot to us all.
Joe Gaiter: How did it feel being 2016 5A Florida State Champions?
Michael Hicks Jr: It was a feeling like no other. As the seconds winded down on the clock during that last play, we got to see all the work our team put in over the past few months finally paying off. All I could do was cry tears of joy and do my best to enjoy the moment while it lasted.
Joe Gaiter: Tell us about your recruitment experience.
Michael Hicks Jr: It was a stressful time since I wasn’t the prototypical size for my position. I was going on visits and getting scholarships from Division 1 schools the entire summer going into my senior year. Then, my top 3 schools at the time pulled their scholarship offers immediately before playoffs started. I used it as motivation, but I honestly had no clue where I would go to school. I ended up having visits to Stetson University, Albany State University and Fort Valley State University the last weekend before signing day.
Joe Gaiter: Why did you choose Fort Valley State?
Michael Hicks Jr: As soon as I stepped onto campus for my visit, there was a different feeling than any other campus I had visited. Once I met the players, coaches, and alumni, I saw that everyone that was a Wildcat (football player or student) was a member of a lifelong family. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to the best HBCU in the world? The REAL Blue and Gold.
Joe Gaiter: What are your thoughts on FVSU 6-4 season?
Michael Hicks Jr: We had an unbelievable team that made a lot of noise since we were coming off of a 2-8 season in 2018. We broke the school record with most points in a game (77) vs Central State on their homecoming. We also achieved the schools longest win streak with 6 wins. We learned and grew as a team from camp to the very last game.
Joe Gaiter: What was your contribution to the team?
Michael Hicks Jr: I didn’t say too much at the beginning of the season, since it was my first year as a starter. I chose to let my talent speak for me. As the season went on, I grew into more of a leader for the team. I ended up leading the conference in interceptions, while ranking in the top half in pass break ups and tackles.
Joe Gaiter: What makes you a great Defensive Back?
Michael Hicks Jr: The passion and emotion I play with is different from most others. I play to win on every rep while also being a student in the film room. I pride myself in knowing the entire defense.
Joe Gaiter: How have you faced adversity this year?
Michael Hicks Jr: By attacking it head on and not avoiding it. You have to overcome every obstacle in your way in order to get to the end destination you dream of.
Joe Gaiter: How are you giving back in your community?
Michael Hicks Jr: I have been participating in food drives in the areas surrounding Fort Valley, organized dorm-based stores to collect food for the less fortunate, participated in city clean ups, held events at elementary schools in Fort Valley and high schools in Macon, just to name a few. Being a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, we pride ourselves on our community service and having an impact in our community.
Joe Gaiter: How are you staying active during your off-season?
Michael Hicks Jr: Training back home in Miami, FL on a daily basis with pro athletes to critique and better my technique and physical attributes.
Joe Gaiter: What is your major and how do you plan on using it?
Michael Hicks Jr: Accounting. After graduation, I plan on getting my CPA and working as a Public Accountant.
Joe Gaiter: What is your untold story?
Michael Hicks Jr: I’ve been overlooked the majority of my football career. Since I was little playing optimist ball, I have always been undersized, but at the same time I was a baller. I realized once I got to high school that you have to work with what you have. I had to prove a lot of people wrong and show people that gave me a chance that it wasn’t for no reason. That attitude has gotten me to where I am today and I will continue to keep pushing until I am living the lifestyle I want to have.
Joe Gaiter: What can we expect from you next season?
Michael Hicks Jr: A different version of myself. Everything I accomplished last year was a blessing, but we didn’t get the job done. Plain and simple. This is my senior year and winning the SIAC Championship isn’t enough for me. I want that National Title and to put all the doubt about Fort Valley to rest.
Joe Gaiter: What is your motivation?
Michael Hicks Jr: My “Why” has always been family first and foremost. My dream has been to retire my mom and dad and show my little brother you can achieve your dream if you’re willing to work for it.
Joe Gaiter: What do you want your legacy to be?
Michael Hicks Jr: A positive person that worked hard for everything he has. Recognize me as someone who always saw the brighter side to everything and never stopped working no matter the circumstance.
Joe Gaiter: Who are some athletes we should keep on our radar?
Michael Hicks Jr: The entire Fort Valley State roster.