Throughout his rookie season, running back Frankie Hickson has already proven that he is capable of providing the Saskatchewan Roughriders some dynamic, home run type of plays.
In their victory over Ottawa on July 8, the former Liberty Flame fired off a 63 yard touchdown run for the Riders. Last week while playing on special teams, Hickson was able to block a punt which allowed the green and white to regain possession inside of BC territory.
The Riders will be dependent on Hickson to provide plenty of explosive plays over an extended period this fall. The leading rusher in the CFL, Jamal Morrow of the Riders, will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks following surgery to a broken hand, leaving Hickson to take over Morrow’s spot as the Rider starter.
The rookie running back say it’s always difficult to inherit the starting role due to an injury.
“You never want to see one of your teammates go down, we’ve been plagued by injuries and we’ve kind of watched one leader kind of fall and take some time to recover, you never want to see that, it’s always next man mentality and that’s what J-Mo (Jamal Morrow) would want. ”
Riders offensive coordinator Jason Maas doesn’t believe the playbook requires many modifications with the switch at running back.
“They’ve been a great 1-2 punch cause they are slightly different.” The Offensive Coordinator added. “Hickson is a tiny bit more dynamic when he touches it to go to the distance.”
Hickson agrees with Maas that there shouldn’t be much need for adjustments with the offensive playbook.
“Coach Maas is great at coming up with a game plan every week and that’s just what all the coaches are going to do, entire coaching staff is going to come together, they’re going to come up with the best thing for who can actually come out and play and that’s what we right now, a great game plan and we just got to go out and execute.”
Even though Hickson will be making his first start for the Riders on Friday, he currently ranks 10th in rushing across the league with 234 yards. With increased playing time on the horizon, there is a very good chance Hickson will soon climb up the list of the league’s top rushing leaders.
Hickson will likely be called upon to provide more blocking from the backfield now that he will be taking over the starting role. He says blocking is an area that he’s improved on throughout the season.
“Every week you have a decision to make, win, loss, draw, whatever, you have a choice to learn from the wins and the losses, I’ve definitely made some mistakes thus far in the season and I’ve learnt from it and teammates have surrounded me and have helped me out with that.”
Even though Hickson has only entered his rookie season in the CFL this year, the 25 year old has already spent time looking into life following his playing career as he’s already developed an interest in coaching. He added it was something that he has spent time thinking about, following a break from football after the 2019 season.
“Coaching is something I wanted to do for a long time, even when I was a kid, it’s embedded in my family, my father was a coach for 25 years, I ultimately feel like coaching is one of those things that has the ability to get through to the soul, to really make a change in their life, I think with college football especially with NIL and all of that stuff going on, I think they’re going to need some help.”
Hickson’s current Head Coach Craig Dickenson jokingly cautioned Hickson about embarking on a coaching path following is playing days, but Dickenson added that it’s always a great sign when a football player is intrigued by the possibility during an earlier stage of his career.
The Riders running back added his goal is to one day be an offensive coordinator a Division 1 school following the conclusion of his playing career.
Hickson will get his first start at running back for the Riders on Friday when they visit the BC Lions in Vancouver. You can tune into the game on 620 CKRM with the opening kickoff at 8:30.