Kyle Hicks grew up rooting for the Texas Longhorns with hopes of one day donning burnt orange, so when coach Mack Brown offered him a scholarship last February, the standout running back gave his commitment.
Nine months later, he surprised many by changing his mind and choosing to stay close to home and attend TCU.
"Texas has been my dream school since I was a little boy, but just because it's my dream school doesn't mean it's right for me," said Hicks, who rushed for 2,780 yards and 48 touchdowns in two seasons at Arlington Martin.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound back said he's 100 percent sure he made the right choice by switching to TCU, and said he's surprised the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
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"You can't say it wasn't a shock because Texas usually gets its pick of the litter in this state," said Matthew Reagan, editor of Rivals' TCU site, PurpleMenace.com. "TCU definitely needed that. They had some solid players in this class, but they were lacking an elite playmaker, and he brings that to the table."
One of Hicks' biggest fans, former Martin teammate and future fellow Horned Frog Devonte Fields recruited him to TCU as hard as anyone. The two have known each other since elementary school and helped lead Martin to new heights in 2011 when the Warriors finished 12-2 and made the school's first trip to the regional finals.
Fields, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end, turned in one of the top freshman seasons in TCU history in 2012 and was The Associated Press Big 12 defensive player of the year. Not only did he help convince Hicks to join him in Fort Worth, but he also broke the story on Twitter.
"He was the first person I told, actually, besides my mom, because he was texting me the whole season," Hicks said. "He asked if he could tweet it out, and I said, 'Yeah, you can tweet it now.'"
If Hicks signs with TCU on National Signing Day on Wednesday, as expected, he'll become the fifth Martin football player to sign with the Horned Frogs since 2007 and the third in two years, joining Fields and kicker Jaden Oberkrom.
Martin coach Bob Wager credits Rusty Burns, TCU's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
"He's done a phenomenal job of building relationships with all of the guys who have come through here, and ultimately that's a big part of recruiting. Rusty does it as well as anyone in America," he said.
Signing Hicks, rated as a four-star prospect by several publications, would be a major coup for TCU.
"In the Big 12, I think he's the perfect back, because he has nasty, nasty speed but he can run over somebody if he needs to," Reagan said. "When you need three yards for a critical first down, you feel pretty good handing him the ball. Yet at the same time when you need a home run hitter, he's your guy and that's big for TCU because they've had that at receiver but haven't had that in the backfield in a while."
The concern with Hicks is durability. Though a tough runner who's shown an ability to play hurt, Hicks started the season rehabbing a broken foot and ended it by tearing an ACL in his left knee.
"Rehab's going good, I'm getting better every day," Hicks said. "The doctors haven't given me a timetable, we're taking our time. By the time I leave to go to TCU, I'll probably just be getting done with rehab. Hopefully I'm just getting it out of the way by my high school career and in college and if I make it to the NFL, I'll just be injury free."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760