Riders RB Frankie Hickson is set for a fresh start in Saskatchewan

A new wave of green will hit Saskatchewan in three weeks, with free agency opening across the Canadian Football League.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been busy securing some players to contracts before they can hit the open market. Earlier this week, the green and white announced new multi-year deals for kicker Brett Lauther and offensive lineman Logan Ferland.

RB Frankie Hickson. Photo: Saskatchewan Roughriders

One player who re-signed with the team last week was American running back Frankie Hickson, who agreed to a one-year deal. Hickson’s sophomore season in Saskatchewan was disappointing, considering the former Liberty Flame finished in the league’s top ten for rushing yards (533) in 2022.

The 26-year-old was a guest on Monday’s edition of the Sportscage and told Michael Ball that it wasn’t a hard decision to extend his stay with the Roughriders. He feels at home in Saskatchewan and is ready for a new start with the football team.

“You can just tell with Coach (Corey) Mace and the rest of the coaching staff that it’s new blood and a new opportunity to bring this Grey Cup home.”

Throughout the off-season, Hickson has been energized from his conservations with Mace and Assistant General Manager Paul Jones about the changes transpiring within the organization.

“You can just tell there’s a different mentality, there’s a different way of doing things, just something to be really excited about, very much a new beginning.”

It has been a tale of two seasons for Hickson in Saskatchewan. He was named the Roughriders Most Outstanding Rookie in 2022. The running back would end the 2023 season with 157 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards.

Hickson is ready to make the most of his opportunity in 2024, even if his role remains undefined.

“You do the very best to prepare week in and week out, you hope you can get utilized the way that you can so that you can do the most that you can for your team.”

The Lynchburg, VA product will further cement his status as a regular with him entering his third season north of the border. Hickson appreciates the CFL for the chance to live his dream as a professional football player.

“They (CFL) give everyone a fair shake,” said Hickson, who noted how former players like Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson believe the CFL is not a far step down from the NFL. “Football is football, the competition is great here just like it is in any other league.”

Special teams are the entryway for players to contribute on the field in the CFL, as many starters are required to help on special teams. The league is considering making alterations to kickoffs considering player safety. Hickson has been on special teams since joining Saskatchewan, and he’s ready to adjust to any possible changes but adds that kickoff returns can alter a game with returners like the Roughrider’s Mario Alford.

“When you have a guy like rio (Alford) and you get to play alongside him, you get to know just how easy a game’s momentum can change with a guy like that.”

The most memorable play Hickson has delivered as a Roughrider was his 63-yard touchdown run against the Ottawa Redblacks in Week 5 of the 2022 season. It’s a breathtaking experience for the running back when he creates a big play.

“At a certain point, you go deaf a little bit,” said Hickson, “the experience will have your heart racing to the point where you’re just trying to catch your breath, but it’s one of those experiences that you’ll never forget.”

It was a devasting loss throughout the province last year when the greatest running back in franchise history, George Reed, passed away. Hickson never had the chance to meet Reed. Based on stories of those impacted by the Hall of Famer, the current Roughriders running back understands why Reed remains a legend in Saskatchewan.

“You can tell he was more than a football player; he was just an all-around great person, a person who had the respect for not only the game, but for the fans, and for the community around him.”

Hickson and Thomas Bertrand-Hudon are now the two running backs under contract with the Roughriders. The starting running back for the past two seasons, Jamal Morrow, is eligible to become a free agent next month.

More from 620 CKRM