NSA’s Hicks signs with Averett

Published 10:21 pm Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nansemond Suffolk Academy’s Andrae “A.J.” Hicks has signed a commitment to play football for Averett University in the fall. He played defensive end and fullback for the Saints.

By Titus Mohler


Nansemond-Suffolk Academy football star Andrae “A.J.” Hicks has committed to play for Averett University in the fall.

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“It means a lot,” Hicks said. “I’ve been working hard for five years. All the working out in the weight room, and putting my effort in my books…. It really means a lot to me.”

He will major in pre-med.

Saints head football coach Lew Johnston had just been hired two months earlier when he met A.J. for the first time in March 2011 at an offseason workout.

“I was immediately impressed with his work ethic,” Johnston said. “He was very intent on doing everything the coaches asked him to do to the best of his ability.”

Hicks went on to be a leader on the team, and the foundation for that leadership was created on those Wednesday workouts, six months before the first game of the season was ever played.

“He earned his right to be listened to last spring, because he was there every week and worked hard and set that example right there,” Johnston said.

Hicks led the team with 11 sacks this past season playing defensive end.

He also asked Coach Johnston if he could play fullback—an unusual position for him to play. The coach said he would evaluate him and let him know.

“Long story short — he ended up starting all 10 games at fullback and defensive end,” Johnston said.

A.J. carried the ball 73 times for 519 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.11 yards per carry, the second-leading rusher on the team.

He made the All-Conference Second Team at defensive end, earned All-State Honorable Mention, and was Co-Defensive Player of the Year for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

“A.J. let me know early he wanted to play college football, so [I thought], ‘I’m going to do everything I can [to help],’” Johnston said.

Johnston began circulating Hicks’ highlight video and talking him up to the college contacts he has had for 30 years.

“He was very appreciative at the end of the day and [said], ‘Thanks for all you did.’” Johnston added. “And I said, ‘A.J., you did it; I just helped you out.’”

Even aside from its contribution to his future, A.J. has a special connection to the game of football.

“You’ve probably heard it, ‘Football is like life,’ so I take it seriously,” he said. “It’s been a huge part of me, because my father passed away four years ago, and that was his favorite sport. And at first it was basketball for me, but then I started liking [football] more. Football has been there for me.”