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Jordan Hicks: From Everywhere to Everything

EAGAN, Minn. — Jordan Hicks has been just about everywhere, so it's only right that he seems to be involved in almost everything as a Vikings inside linebacker.

Born in Colorado, he's also lived in Indiana, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona and now, Minnesota.

Growing up in a single-parent home, the family relocated as Hicks' mom climbed the corporate ladder.

In Indiana and South Carolina, Hicks found a home within the lines of a basketball court, which remained constant despite so many changes for a young person to navigate.

"I think I was lucky to have really good people around me, family support; but for me, it was primarily coaches," Hicks said. "I dove into sports headfirst, so no matter where I was, I was playing. My first love was basketball, so I played basketball everywhere and kind of fell into football when I got to Ohio.

"Once I got to Ohio, we were able to have a little consistency and ended up finishing my high school career there," he added. "It hasn't always been easy. Some of the transitions, like to Austin in my first couple of years [at the University of Texas] was hard."

View photos of Vikings LB Jordan Hicks touring TCO Performance Center and getting introduced to the team for the first time.

Just 17 when he first arrived on campus, Hicks appeared in all 12 games, contributing on special teams and at linebacker, as a true freshman for the Longhorns in 2010.

Hicks graduated with a bachelor's degree in sport management in three-and-a-half years. He bounced back from injuries in 2012 (hip) and 2013 (Achilles) to start all 13 games as a fifth-year senior.

The moves have continued in the NFL, from Philadelphia to Arizona and Minnesota, but Hicks has made quick impacts at every turn.

In his first six games with Minnesota, he's recorded a team-high 56 tackles, along with 2.0 sacks, three quarterback hits, an interception, four passes defensed and a forced fumble.

"I've always been somebody that takes pride in adapting. When I'm the underdog and people don't believe in me and what I can do, I put my head down, go to work and prove them wrong," Hicks said. "I remember in high school it was the same way. I started on the basketball team as a freshman when nobody told me I could. They all thought I should stay on the JV team. I got to Texas and the same. Didn't redshirt. Came to the league and did the same.

"I think a lot of it is a mental state, trying to prove people wrong," Hicks said. "Absolutely, I think moving around has allowed me to adapt to situations and get a feel, try and see the bigger picture, rather than just narrow-minded."

Hicks grew to love the linebacker position in high school and continues to because "you get in the mix of everything."

"You obviously have to be the quarterback of the defense and understand what's going on, but at the same time, you're in the runs and getting physical, constantly banging," he said, "but then you also have the ability to make plays on the back end and be in the middle of it all."

Hicks, who was selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, said "everything started slowing down a bit, and I felt faster than my opponent in a lot of areas" in his third pro season.

"I love it because you come off on the sideline, and somebody says, 'What happened?' " he explained. " 'Bro, I don't even know. I felt this and this and this and just completely went off instinct.' When you make those big plays in that moment, there's nothing like it."

Preparation to boost knowledge and enhance physical training helps, but instincts can become swaying factors in a game of margins.

It's why Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell stopped a meeting this spring with General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah upon finding out Hicks had been released by Arizona ahead of free agency.

O'Connell, who had faced Hicks within the NFC East while with Washington and most recently within the NFC West as the offensive coordinator of the Rams, relayed, "I didn't like playing against that guy" to Adofo-Mensah.

Minnesota quickly signed Hicks, who was chosen as a captain in his final two seasons with the Cardinals.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips also faced Hicks while with Washington and the L.A. Rams and said Hicks has "always been a great player" because of his "instincts, athleticism, toughness."

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson witnessed how Hicks "fit right in" the locker room in Arizona in 2019 and has done so here this year.

"We all know he's a great player — obviously that speaks for itself," Peterson said. "But what he brings to the locker room – his personality, the person that he is – he's just a genuine guy. It's hard not to like people like that.

"Jordan being a great football player just puts the cherry on top, but him as a human being, him as a person, him being who he is every day – never wavering from that – that's what goes a long way," Peterson added. "And that, to me, is how you build genuine relationships. I'm grateful to have my guy J-Hicks back, be his teammate again, because he's one hell of a football player, and he definitely made us better when we picked him up."

Vikings safety Harrison Smith said Hicks "adds a ton" to Minnesota's defense.

"You can kind of feel me and him communicating a lot," Smith said. "He's a calming presence, for sure."

The Vikings enter today's game with a four-game win streak, having prevailed in four consecutive one-score games and three that required fourth-quarter comebacks (Lions, Saints and Bears).

In the moments that have mattered most, Hicks and others haven't flinched.

"The NFL is tight games the majority of the time, so being in this league for so long, I understand that and realize no matter what the score may look like in the first or second half, that last drive is always extremely critical," Hicks said. "I've been in it a lot, and that experience has helped me quite a bit, but then you just have confidence in the team you're on, confidence in the guys you're in the huddle with. I think one thing we have on this team is everybody believes no matter what the situation is, we're going to win."