Nick Hicks is not your traditional punter. Everything from his punting style to the way he became a punter is different. But he has produced great results for the University of Richmond football team.
Hicks, a redshirt sophomore, came to Richmond as a quarterback after setting passing records at Kell High School in Marietta, Ga. But a season-ending injury to punter Brian Radford last year against James Madison University created an opening at that position and brought about Hicks' position change.
The team held a try-out for punters the following week and Hicks, who had punted some in high school, participated.
"I hit a few good ones and [the coaches] said, 'All right, that's good enough,'" Hicks said.
By that time, Hicks had developed his unique rugby style of rolling out to the left while punting the ball. That style had come from Hicks fooling around one day before practice after Radford was hurt.
His first game action was against the University of Massachusetts two weeks after Radford's injury. At the time, he was the back-up punter to Brett Weigand. His only punt of the game went 36 yards.
It wasn't until the playoff game against Appalachian State University that Hicks got more than one punt in a game. Three of his four punts that game backed the Mountaineers inside their own 20-yard line and he averaged 41.2 yards per punt.
"I was a little nervous," Hicks said. "I don't know if I was breathing when I went out there until I got back to the sideline. Everything kind of slowed down once I got out there and natural ability came through."
Hicks has kept that strong performance going this year. He has punted the ball 16 times this year with an average of 37.4 yards. Most importantly, he has forced the opponent to start inside their 20-yard line seven times this year.
"Most punters hold the ball a different way to try to get it inside the 20," Hicks said. "I, instead of holding the ball different, just try to take a little off, use that like a changeup rather than hitting a fastball and try to hit it as far as I can."
When Hicks does use his fastball, he can get distance on the punt. During the season opener at the University of Virginia, Hicks punted the ball a career-long 63 yards.
Although punter may not be the glamorous position, Richmond coach Latrell Scott knows that Hicks' ability to pin the opponent deep is a big advantage.
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"Nick's got kind of an unorthodox way of punting and Nick's done a great job of landing some balls inside the 10-yard line," Scott said. "I think a few of them our punt team hadn't gotten out and actually downed but Nick's done a great job and he's a huge asset for us when we're trying to flip the field and pin the other team deep in their own territory."
• Wide receiver Tre Gray, who missed the second half last week with a shoulder injury suffered against Elon University, will be able to play, Scott said at Wednesday's press conference. Fellow wide receiver Donte Boston is still a few weeks away from returning from a broken rib suffered against Elon.
• The Spiders have not lost back-to-back games in one season since a four-game losing streak in 2006. Twice during that span, Richmond has lost its final game of the year and the first game the following year.
• Coastal Carolina comes into Robins Stadium at 1-3 on the year. It played fellow Colonial Athletic Association opponent Towson University on Sept. 11. Towson won that game 47-45 in five overtimes.
• CCU quarterback Zach MacDowell is a dual threat. He has thrown for 722 yards and rushed for 123 yards this year.
• This is the first time these two schools have played each other in football.
• CCU's mascot is a Chanticleer (SHON-ti-clear). According to the school's athletic website, the bird comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and is "a proud and fierce rooster who dominates the barnyard"
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