From Unknown to One of Our Own. Roughriders RB Frankie Hickson recalls his winter in Saskatchewan


There have been a lot of changes for Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Frankie Hickson over the last year. In the spring of 2022, he was an unknown running back heading to training camp with the Roughriders. Now he has become one-half of the top rushing tandems in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and has started to plant some roots in the heart of the prairies.

Recently, Hickson joined “The Professor” Don Hewitt and Sean Kleisinger on the SportsCage.

The running back said he didn’t hear about the CFL until former Saskatchewan Roughrider quarterback and head coach Kent Austin was hired as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Liberty University in 2019.

Hickson said that Austin became a heavy influence on him.

“The moment he got on the staff, you could just tell he was just a different type of an offensive mind.”

After being out of football for a couple of seasons, the running back earned himself a spot on the Saskatchewan roster with an impressive showing in the pre-season.

Hickson and Jamal Morrow would form the top rushing duo in the CFL for the Roughriders in 2022. Morrow finished the season fourth among the league’s leader in rushing with 666 yards while Hickson was in the sixth spot with 533 rushing yards. Both players made the list of league leaders despite each player only suiting up in 12 games due to injuries.

Morrow’s veteran presence was like having an additional coach according to the 26-year-old.

“So many times you could see the rookie in me coming out, there was always someone to pull me back and to give me the right perspective that I needed and most of the time it was Jamal (Morrow).”

Hickson was pressed into the starter’s role after Morrow was injured with a broken hand injury in August. In his first start against the BC Lions on August 26, the rookie running back rattled off 129 rushing yards. He felt his preparation allowed him to take on the starter’s role.

“A one-day mentality kind of helped me last year I was just focusing on maximizing on what I could for the day. ”

Kelly Jeffrey will take over as offensive coordinator for the Roughriders after serving as the team’s running backs coach last year. After working with him extensively last season, Hickson is excited to see what Jeffrey will bring to the Roughriders offence and lists Jeffrey’s honesty as one of his best attributes.

“He’s a straight shooter, he can see through all the B.S. and he’s going to give it to you straight and he’s going to tell you how it is.”

It has been an eye-opening experience for the Lynchburg, Virginia product spending this past winter in Saskatchewan. Hickson has served as an ambassador for the Roughriders, speaking at various engagements. He says the passion that Rider Nation contains is evident at every event he attends.

“The joy that the kids have brought me and even seeing how dedicated these teachers are in Saskatchewan, it gives a lot of hope for the next generation and all I want to do is be part of the change.”

The chill of a Saskatchewan winter hasn’t deterred the former Liberty Flame. He has already told his family, that if they plan on coming to Saskatchewan to watch the running back in action, it has to happen before the end of summer.

Hickson said words can’t describe the experience of winter in Saskatchewan.

“It’s just something you have to feel.”

Just like becoming a better running back, Hickson says adapting to the Saskatchewan winters goes one day at a time.


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