Player of the Pine Belt: West Jones DE Dedric ‘Deebo’ Hicks
SOSO, Miss. (WDAM) - Officially, West Jones High School defensive end Dedric “Deebo” Hicks will have just this final fall of football for causing prep offensive linemen major headaches across the Pine Belt and beyond.
It only seems like Hicks has been a defensive mainstay for the Mustangs forever.
“He’s probably our best defensive player,” West Jones football coach Scott Pierson said. “We’ve got some really good players over there, but he’s started for us since the ninth grade.”
During that period, Hicks has helped anchor a West Jones defense that was the anchor of back-to-back Class 5A South State titles and then helping the Mustangs win the first state football crown in program history in 2020.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Hicks said last year’s title run was in the past and that the Mustangs are on a new crusade.
“We’ve got the confidence (from winning state), but we know we’ve got the target on the back,” Hicks said. “We’re still hungry so we’re still grinding.”
The summer workouts in the Mississippi heat are where champions are forged, Pierson said.
“The important thing about summer is this when you find out who your players are, who’s going to show up, who’s going to hold each other accountable,” Pierson said. “There are a lot of reasons not to come, but your true players, the one who are going to help you win football games, find reasons to be here.”
The Mustangs will have a different look this fall, particularly with the graduation of three-year starters, quarterback Alan Follis, running back Kentrel Pruitt and receiver Tajrick Randolph.
The pass-catching corps took another hit, with starting slot receiver Marion Lindsey moving behind center in Follis’ place.
But like most other really good football teams, the play along the lines will be critical, and on defense, that’s where Hicks comes in.
A three-time Class 5A state champion in the shot put, Hicks said playing up front is where the action is.
“It’s in the trenches, man, and it’s fun down there,” Hicks said. “You’re hitting a guy every play.
“You’ve got to have a dawg mentality. You take a play off; you’re going to get put on your butt. That’s just it.”
Pierson said Hicks fits the mold of the defensive lineman of West Jones’ past.
“As long as I’ve been here, we’ve had a great defensive line,” Pierson said. “A lot of it is just genetics and a lot of it is just great players. But when they come here, (the defensive line) is a position of want. Everybody wants to play there.
“A lot of times, it’s not always the biggest kid. We want that quick, strong, athletic kid, and then just let them play.”
West Jones has a tradition where the best defensive lineman wears the number nine jersey. Hicks will sport that number for a second consecutive season.
“He’s a soft talker, but his actions speak louder than his words,” Pierson said.
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