04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Saints' picks: Round 3/89 -- Akiem Hicks, DT, 6-4, 324, University of Regina...He flew under the radar because he played in Canada, but shot up the Saints' board because of his size and impressive showings at the East-West Shrine game and the combine workouts. - The Sports Xchange
04/30/2012 - "We're real excited about our pick, he's a guy we really studied a lot," said Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who has assumed the day-to-day duties of suspended coach Sean Payton. "As late as Friday, we spent about 1 1/2 or two hours on this player. "We love his tenacity," he said. "We know he's raw, but that's the fun part of it. He has good work habits and good resiliency. He's a big-bodied player." After spending five months working at a call center for DIRECTV and entertaining an offer to join the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, Hicks wound up at the University of Regina, where he played the last two seasons. As a junior, Hicks had 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks and was drafted by the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks. But he chose to return to school for his final season and recorded 42 tackles and 6.5 sacks. "There were a group of players there," Vitt said targeting Hicks with their pick. "Believe it or not, he was at the top of our list when our turn came up. If he wouldn't have been there, we might have thought about trading down." At the Combine, Hicks ran the 40-yard dash in 5.23 seconds and had 26 bench-press repetitions at 225 pounds and also had a 31-inch vertical leap. "He dominated and played really well," Vitt said of Hicks' performance at the East-West all-star game. "He threw some guys around." - The Sports Xchange
04/30/2012 - When the Saints made their first pick in the draft late Friday night because they held no picks in the first or second rounds, the name of their third-round selection had a ring to it. Although his time at LSU was short, University of Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, a 6-4, 324-pounder, spent several months in Baton Rouge in 2009 before being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. A highly-rated junior college prospect from California, Nicks was at the center of an NCAA probe after he enrolled at LSU. The school self-reported penalties involving former wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy and his recruitment of the junior college star, which cost it two scholarships and a one-year probation, and Hicks wound up at the University of Regina and played the last two seasons there. The violations involved improper housing, transportation and phone calls. The NCAA cited LSU's cooperation and quick action for avoiding tougher penalties and a lengthier probation period. "It's been a long one and a rough one at times," Hicks said of his journey to the NFL. "It's been a journey and I have learned a lot the whole way. I just appreciate everything that has been given to me, and been taken from me because it has made me who I am today." - The Sports Xchange
04/30/2012 - With no picks in the first and second rounds for the first time in franchise history, the Saints had to wait a long time before making their first selection in the draft on Friday night. After trading their top pick in this year's draft to get back into the first round last spring and take running back Mark Ingram, the Saints were stripped of their second-round pick for a bounty program that rewarded defenders for big hits on opposing players. With only one pick in the first three rounds, which was the 89th overall selection, the Saints figured to try and add some help on defense after giving up 41 and 36 points in losses that eliminated them from the playoffs in 2010 and '11. While that wasn't a surprise, their pick was as they added more depth to the interior of their front four by taking 6-4, 324-pound defensive tackle Akiem Hicks of the University of Regina in Canada. Despite having defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis under contract and signing veteran Brodrick Bunkley in free agency, the Saints figured they could use more depth with a player who earlier was projected to go in the sixth or seventh rounds. But Hicks, who enrolled at LSU in 2009 but was ruled ineligible after never playing a down because he was living at an off-campus apartment at an inappropriately reduced rate, caught the eye of NFL scouts after strong performances at the East-West Shrine game and the Combine. - The Sports Xchange
04/27/2012 - DE Akiem Hicks, Regina -- The Saints first pick invested on a developmental prospect with great size -- 6-5 with 86-inch wingspan -- and better-than-average speed for his frame.
03/21/2012 - The spotlight that shone brightly on University of Regina Rams defensive lineman Akiem Hicks last season also may have caught Stefan Charles in its beam. "When video went out for Akiem, people saw Stefan," Rams head coach Frank McCrystal said Tuesday. "I had (NFL scouts) call and say, 'Who is this No. 90 (Charles' jersey number), when does he come up in the draft, and what can you tell me about him?' "Guys from the NFL have called and asked specifically about him. It hasn't just been in passing." Hicks and Charles were a formidable duo along the Rams' defensive line during the 2011 Canada West football season. Hicks led the conference with 6.5 sacks during the regular season and also topped the Rams in tackles (29), total tackles (35.5) and forced fumbles (two). Charles tied for the conference lead with 10.5 tackles for a loss and added 27.5 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Both men were named CIS firstteam All-Canadians. Hicks, a product of Elk Grove, Calif., was invited to play in the 2012 East-West Shrine Game - an NCAA all-star contest - and then was asked to participate in the NFL combine. As a result, there's a chance Hicks could be selected in the 2012 NFL draft. Judging by the phone calls Mc-Crystal has received from scouts, Charles has received the residual effect of being evident in Hicks' highlight videos. - Ian Hamilton, Regina Leader-Post