SE: Former RB Eric Hickson Continuing Football Success

Eric Hickson experienced six bowl games with Kansas State from 1993-98, four of which he was on the field for while he redshirted his true freshman season and earned a medical redshirt in 1997.

Last year, the former all-time leading rusher at K-State, who currently ranks sixth in school history with 2,537 yards, rode a historic season with Akron as its running backs coach. The Zips topped Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last December for the program’s first bowl victory, capping Hickson’s first season at Akron on a high note. 

Before becoming the running backs coach at Akron, Hickson spent time in the NFL, XFL and the Arena Football League. After putting his playing days behind him in 2002, Hickson stepped right into the coaching realm. 

Between stops in Florida and Indiana, he spent a decade in the high school football, coaching multiple future NFL players and even more to Division I offers. The former All-Big 8 pick then spent the 2014 season coaching at Garden City Community College before Akron head coach Terry Bowden, son of Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden, called about an opening. 

K-State Sports Extra recently had a chance to catch up with Hickson, the latest K-State product to help carry success to another program, which started the 2016 season with a 47-24 win over Virginia Military Institute. 

SE: How is life in Akron, Ohio, following last season? 

EH: Everything is going well here at Akron. Coach Bowden is a great coach and he’s a great guy to work for. We’re just trying to get the kids and everybody on the same page so we can go out and compete this year to go to another bowl game. 

SE: What was it like to experience the program’s first bowl victory last season? 

EH: It was very exciting. I look at it as my first bowl game coaching. When I was at K-State, I was blessed to go to six bowl games, but to be able to coach and to be able to win a bowl game is very special.

SE: Are there any similarities from the way Akron runs its football program to your experience at K-State? 

EH: There’s definitely some similarities. Coach Bowden runs a tight ship, just like Coach (Bill) Snyder does. The coaching styles are basically the same. It’s old-school coaching and getting the kids on the same page, as well as the coaches, basically creating a good, family atmosphere. I think that’s helped me a lot, coming from K-State and then coming here, where Coach Bowden has a family atmosphere as well. I’m blessed and I’m excited. I’m excited for the opportunities ahead. I can’t ask for a greater situation to be in.

SE: How have you grown as a coach since you first started in 2003? 

EH: In this day and age, the kids have changed rapidly from the time when I played to now. I think I’ve grown toward being able to understand and relate to the kids more in depth. Now, it’s not all about X’s and O’s. It’s all about building a (student-athlete) to become, first of all, a young man and a great citizen, a great husband, a great father. That’s what it’s about now, is uplifting a young man to become a man.

SE: What kind of influence did K-State have on your coaching style? 

EH: As far as the influence it had, it’s a lot of structure. My coaching style is a lot of structure too. I’m definitely firm and fair with my kids, making sure they have a great understanding of what’s going on and what’s expected of them. I think that’s a great influence (from K-State) because when we were at K-State, we knew what we had to do, knew what was expected of us and we just had to go out and get the job done. 

SE: Are you still able to pay attention to K-State football and keep tabs on the program? 

EH: I do, but it’s kind of hard. At this level, it’s just hard to pay attention, but I do call back. I talk with Coach Snyder, just to make sure Coach is OK. Really not to talk football, just to check on him and make sure he’s fine. I talk to the other coaches as well, Sean (Snyder), Coach (Andre) Coleman, Coach (Dana) Dimel. I do try to stay in contact, but it’s hard. It’s hard with me coaching at the Division I level where we’re so busy. 

SE: What are your fondest memories from your time at K-State? 

EH: I think the fondest memories that I have would definitely have to be the family atmosphere — the Fridays before the games. I think those are the best times, when we connected as a team, whether it was movie night, doing other things we wanted to do, and just being in the complex, being around the guys. It was a great atmosphere to be around. I most definitely miss the people and the great fans we had, but also the Friday nights before the games, and I think that’s a big part of Coach Snyder’s program that a lot of kids enjoy. 

Bill Snyder Family Stadium Ready To Host Wildcat Kickoff Music Festival Saturday 

Three-time Grammy Award winners and multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band will headline the first major concert event at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in nearly 30 years on Saturday as the Wildcat Kickoff music festival will provide nearly eight hours of entertainment beginning at 4 p.m.
 
Joining Zac Brown Band’s headlining act will be multi-platinum pop rock band Train, featuring lead singer Pat Monahan, as well as American Idol Season 11 winner and multi-platinum seller Phillip Phillips and a host of other performers.
 
Tickets for the event remain starting at $39, and gates to the stadium will open at 3 p.m. Stadium  "Will Call" will be located on the west side of BSFS near Gate B and will open at 1 p.m.
 
Parking for the event is all general admission at a cost of $20 for cars and $60 for RV’s. Lots will open at 1 p.m., and tailgating will be allowed but groups must arrive together to park together. In addition, there will be no pass outs or re-entry, from or back into the stadium, while K-State’s “clear bag policy” will be in effect for the event.
 
Zac Brown Band caps a nationwide summer tour of 30-plus shows across North America in Manhattan on Saturday which also included stadium performances at Fenway Park, Target Field and Citi Field.
 
Visit http://wildcatkickoff.com or www.kstatesports.com for more information.

Wildcat Kickoff Performance Schedule (times are approximate)

4 p.m. – Adley Stump
5 p.m. – David Ray
6:30 p.m. – Phillip Phillips
7:30 p.m. – Train
9 p.m. – Zac Brown Band