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Hicks Has a Foot Up on Heisman Pedestal

Bruins: He scores four times to set school career touchdown mark, fueling his prospects in dash for trophy.


Skip Hicks, the candid Heisman candidate, put four more scores on the tally board Saturday in UCLA's 40-27 victory over Arizona, battering himself onto the hot list for this hype-driven award and, along the way, into the Bruin record book.

Not only did Hicks surge past Gaston Green's school career touchdown mark (finishing the game with 42 in his career, two more than Green), he gained 118 yards in 28 carries against an Arizona defense that last week held powerful Ohio State to its worst rushing total in four years.

In the what-have-you-gained-for-me-lately world of the Heisman, as the Peyton Manning, Tavian Banks and Ron Dayne campaigns rise and fall, the UCLA senior running back's statistics are piling up like so many strewn defensive linemen.

In his last 14 games, Hicks has scored 33 touchdowns.

The fourth-and-goal failure against Washington State, when Hicks was taking a breather on the sideline? The last-series fumble to finalize the heartbreaking loss against Tennessee?

Those miscues are getting more and more blurry each time Hicks kicks loose for big yardage.

"He should definitely be in the race," said Bruin guard Andy Meyers, part of an offensive line that has paved the way. "I don't know about being a front-runner, I don't know how you get that. But look at what he's done.

"He's done it against the No. 3 defense in the nation in Washington State. He's done it against the No. 1 defense in the SEC [Tennessee]. He's done it against the Big 12 champion [Texas]. And today, he did it against the No. 5 defense in the nation against the rush.

"Look, we're not playing against Central Florida or Akron, that's all I know."

Saturday's performance came against a Wildcat team that held him to 48 yards in 21 carries in last season's Arizona victory and had yielded only 184 yards in three games this season.

This was Hicks' fourth school-record-tying four-touchdown performance of his UCLA career--and second this season. Hicks now has 13 touchdowns this year, and has rushed for 497 yards in four games.

Enough, Hicks said with a smile, to let him visualize the possibility of leaving the New York Downtown Athletic Club in December holding a large, famous trophy.

"Hey, that stuff gets me fired up," Hicks said. "What keeps going through my mind is the picture two years ago, when [1995 winner] Eddie George was getting off the plane coming home with the Heisman Trophy in his hands.

"That's the only thing in my mind the last two years."

After the two fateful failures in the first two games (despite 190 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Washington State and 197 all-purpose yards against the Volunteers), Hicks was not only being counted out of the Heisman race, he was a national focus of attention--how can such a talented running back mess up like that in back-to-back games?

"I know that nobody's perfect, we're all human," Hicks said. "Everybody messes up. Everybody gets tired. Everybody fumbles sometime."

Hicks admitted that, as UCLA was driving to kill the clock at the end of the game Saturday, up by 13, he wouldn't have minded being in the game to try to get his school-record fifth touchdown.

But, instead, it was Keith Brown in at tailback, and, this time on the coach's decision, Hicks on the sideline.

"I wanted to be in there, but it was a thing where I was taught not to be too greedy," Hicks said. "If the coach didn't want me in there, I wasn't going to twist his arm to get back in.

"It'll come. Before I leave here, I will get five. I will. I want to get four as many times as I can, and five scores will come."

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