Who steps in at outside linebacker? Logan Wilson had a good idea
LARAMIE -- Logan Wilson didn't hesitate last April when he was asked who Wyoming's starting linebackers would be this fall.
Chad Muma, he said, would replace him in the middle. No one was shocked to hear that news.
But who would replace Cassh Maluia on the outside?
That was a mystery to most. Not Wilson.
"Charles Hicks," Wilson said. "He could be the guy."
Wilson isn't the only one that sees it shaking out like that when the Cowboys travel to Reno Oct. 24 for the season opener. Hicks does, too.
"I definitely see myself starting for this defense," Hicks said over a Zoom meeting with media early in the week. "I feel like I’ve matured over my time here, and I’ve gained a lot of experience behind all these guys -- Cassh, Logan and Chad -- looking at these guys play the past couple years. I think it’s helped me get to where I’m at to be in a position to play this year."
Hicks is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 228-pound San Diego product. He was heavily recruited out of Lincoln High School by Boise State, Utah State and the team Wyoming will face in the opener, Nevada.
You may have heard of his high school before. Or better yet, the names of a few guys that went there: Marcus Allen, Terrell Davis and Akili Smith, among many other NFL-caliber players.
Hicks played in all 12 games for the Pokes last fall, registering four tackles as a back-up and a special teams contributor.
This year, he plans on taking the next step. Right into the starting role.
That preparation began off the field.
"For me personally, it was taking things more seriously -- watching more film, studying the playbook more," he said. "Even though we have a new defensive coordinator, a lot of things are similar. Maturing, realizing I had to up my game and understanding the defense better, I think will help me play faster on the field."
Hicks has been repping with Muma and the first-team defense all camp. He has also gotten an early taste of what life as a starter in the conference will be like.
He sees it every day in practice.
"I think we have one of the best tight end corps in the Mountain West," Hicks said, referring to Jackson Marcotte, Nate Weinman, Treyton Welch and Colin O'Brien. "Going against them every day is good competition. Obviously, as linebackers, we’ve got to guard them, and I think it will help us when we have to go up against other tight ends this season."
Aaron Bohl, who is in his first season as the full-time linebackers coach, said guys are still figuring out their roles and how everything works together.
"I think it's been really fun," Bohl said about this group. "We have a group really eager to prove themselves. They have all the confidence in themselves. They are all good players, but I think a lot of people are looking for a let up from last year because we lost such talented guys.
"I think those guys are excited to step up."
Who are these guys?
- Brady Bohlinger, 6-2, 211, Fr.
- Wyett Ekeler, 5-11, 189, Fr.
- Easton Gibbs, 6-2, 216, R-Fr.
- Keonte Glinton, 6-0, 185, R-Fr.
- Blake Harrington, 5-11, 180, Soph.
- Brennan Kutterer, 6-1, 211, Jr.
- Ray Rabou, 6-2, 212, Soph.
- Connor Shay, 6-2, 210, Fr.
- Shae Suiaunoa, 6-2, 227, R-Fr.
- Read Sunn, 6-2, 226, Fr.
- Brent VanderVeen, 6-2, 190, Fr.
Hicks said to keep an eye on Shae Suiaunoa and Easton Gibbs this season. Keonte Ginton has been repping at the nickel back spot in place of Keyon Blankenbaker.
“Easton and Shae -- I think those two work really hard,” Hicks said, admitting that he can't pronounce Suiaunoa. “Easton competes with me and Shae competes with Chad every day at MIKE, too. I feel like we have guys in our (linebacker) room who can step up in any situation and play.”
No one seems to like the term "big shoes to fill," but that's exactly what Hicks will be doing this fall.
Has his mentor given him any words of advice?
"I've talked to Cassh recently," he joked. "We talk here and there. He just tells me keep my head on the grind and that he expects big things out of me."