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Arena football: FB Quayvon Hicks excited for opportunity with Massachusetts Pirates

Hicks 20190413 MassPirates vs CarolinaCobras 0541 1 1024x681   

WORCESTER — The last three games Quayvon Hicks has played in the National Arena League have been against the Carolina Cobras.

And they were all losses, one with Columbus in the NAL championship game last season, and two to start this season with the Massachusetts Pirates. The hefty and humble fullback kept things positive, though, when it came to Carolina on his mind.

“Carolina has a couple of players who were teammates with me in Columbus,” Hicks said Tuesday after practice. “So it was kind of cool playing them and seeing those familiar faces and to go up against one of the more veteran teams in the league.

“We’ve got Orlando this week, so hopefully we can take some good from those losses we do have and move forward.”

The Pirates meet the expansion-team Predators (1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the DCU Center. It’s the first of consecutive home games as the Jacksonville Sharks visit here May 4.

Hicks grew up in Blackshear, Georgia, a city of 3,600 or so residents in the southeast corner of the state near the Florida border. He went on play for his home-state helmeted heroes, the University of Georgia, from 2012 to ’15.

Among Hicks’ college teammates were current or former Patriots Sony Michel, David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn and Malcolm Mitchell.

He’s also familiar with offensive lineman Tyler Catalina of Worcester, who joined the Bulldogs as a graduate transfer in 2016 and now plays for the Washington Redskins.

“It was exciting to see all those guys going through the transition,” Hicks said of jumping from the SEC to the NFL. “Just seeing those guys get an opportunity in the game; wherever their journey takes them you have to be supportive.

“They’ll always be great friends of mine and great teammates, but they’re in their world. I appreciate everything they do representing the University of Georgia, and I think their careers speak for themselves.”

Hicks was bypassed in the 2016 NFL Draft but signed with the Tennessee Titans shortly afterward. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year later and was released with training camp winding down.

The 24-year-old appreciates the opportunity he received with both organizations as it made him a better educated and more seasoned player.

“I think you have to take full advantage of every opportunity you have, whether it’s arena football or outdoor football or CFL,” Hicks said. “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, but right now, I’m just about the Pirates.”

Hicks was named the NAL Offensive Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 touchdowns in 12 games for Columbus last season.

He signed with the Pirates early in free agency, attracted by the prospect of playing with veterans like quarterback and league MVP Sean Brackett, receiver Mardy Gilyard and offensive lineman Thomas Claiborne.

“I think it was a great move for me, and I’m excited for what we have for the rest of the season and just preparing day to day,” Hicks said.

Hicks carries 260 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, which is a bit heavy for a fullback in the outdoor game, but definitely light for one playing indoors, where teams often man the position with a 300-plus offensive lineman.

But he holds his weight, so to speak, with his ability to run and receive in addition to blocking.

“I think I’m probably the most versatile guy in this league,” Hicks modestly said. “I’m not the biggest or fastest or strongest guy. I try to perfect what I can. I try to take pride in blocking, as I do running the ball, and I love to catch the ball.”

Hicks has rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, highlighted by an 18-yard run in the season opener in which he displayed his athleticism by hurdling a would-be tackler. He has yet to catch a pass, but made 15 receptions — and even threw a pass — for Columbus last season.

“I’m kind of an all-around guy, so whenever the team needs me, I’m able to step up and play my role,” Hicks said.

—Contact Rich Garven at rgarven@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichGarvenTG.

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