- 50 tackles
- 6 passes defended
- 5 interceptions
- 4 fumble recoveries
- 2 forced fumbles
People make mistakes and since teams are made up of groups of people, they make mistakes as well. The Cincinnati Bearcats forced opposing teams to make many mistakes last season. In fact, no team in the American Athletic Conference created more turnovers than the Bearcats in 2019 (26). Clearly there were more than a few UC defenders proficient in capitalizing on the mistakes of opponents.
Among this roster filled with opportunistic turnover creators, Ja’von Hicks stood out above the rest. For a someone playing defense, he had the ball in his hands quite frequently. The safety logged an AAC-high five interceptions and if that wasn’t enough, he also recovered a league-best four fumbles while forcing a pair as well. It’s rather impressive that Hicks outpaced everyone on the Bearcats, let alone the entire conference, because UC had a secondary filled with players who had a nose for the ball. However, the purely massive collection of takeaways that Hicks produced towered over the production of guys like Darrick Forrest and Ahmad Gardner.
The rest of Hicks’ resume was solid enough, but nowhere near what he did in the turnover department. He tallied 50 tackles, six passes defended and one pass breakup, which seems low for a player who made his living by ruining passes with interceptions. Perhaps that was what held him back from receiving the type of accolades Forrest and Gardner gained, although he did earn an All-AAC honorable mention nod.
The Best of the Best
Sept. 7, 2019 at Ohio State
Hicks didn’t often pile up a ton of tackles, but he had seven in this one and threw in a forced fumble as well.
Oct. 12, 2019 at Houston
The turnovers were plentiful in this one for Hicks, who had two interceptions and a fumble recovery against the Cougars.
Oct. 19, 2019 vs. Tulsa
This was another game with plenty of opportunities for Hicks to interrupt the offense, as he had a fumble recovery, an interception and a pass breakup.
Nov. 16, 2019 at USF
With a career-high nine tackles, including eight solo efforts, Hicks proved he could do more than create turnovers, although he still managed to do that as well, forcing and recovering a fumble.
For Next Year
As great as Hicks was at forcing turnovers in 2019, such things are largely unpredictable and can fluctuate wildly. Hicks is a talented safety whether the turnovers decrease, stay the same or somehow increase. Whichever way the turnovers go, Hicks will have to prove that he can replicate his strong play from 2019 as a junior.
As long as we’re speaking about fluctuations, the Bearcats will have an embarrassment of riches in the secondary next season, and that could mean less playing time for Hicks. James Wiggins should be healthy next year and Forrest has a safety spot locked up as well. Even with that written, I imagine the Bearcats will figure out a way to utilize Hicks as often as possible. That could mean Hicks will have to learn a new position, which comes with its own challenges. However, if that’s what it takes to get Hicks in the lineup, the Bearcats should do it, because not getting him into the lineup would be a mistake.