Burnt Orange Breakdown: Jordan Hicks

Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from them. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 3 Jordan Hicks

Senior linebacker

Recruitment rewind: The No. 4 recruit in the 2010 ESPN 150 out of West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West made his big announcement a week before signing day, choosing Texas over Ohio State on the same day that Jackson Jeffcoat chose the Longhorns. It was without a doubt one of the most exciting recruiting days of Mack Brown's long tenure at Texas, and the addition of Hicks and Jeffcoat gave the Longhorns the No. 2-rated recruiting class in the country.

Career so far: Hicks played in all 25 games in his first two seasons in Austin and had eight starts under his belt entering his junior year. Three games into the 2012 season, Hicks went down with a hip injury at Ole Miss that cost him the rest of the season. He received a medical redshirt for that missed time and got a do-over on his junior year, but another freak injury -- a torn Achilles while running in pass coverage against Kansas State -- ended his season after four games. Hicks now has missed 19 games in two years.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Thirteen full games and impressive performances. We saw flashes in 2011 of Hicks' five-star potential, but his misfortune with injuries has derailed what should have been a memorable career. Texas wisely took it slow with Hicks this spring, ensuring his full recovery, and the new defensive staff would love nothing more than to have him patrolling the second level and leading the Longhorns. Maybe the ceiling here is an All-Big 12 caliber season, but right now, all Hicks can ask for is good health and a fair chance.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Pretty obvious answer here. He has one season left and no time for another major injury. It's hard to picture a scenario in which a healthy Hicks loses his starting job to someone else. He'll get eased back in with the early nonconference game and there shouldn't be much rust by the time Texas goes to Arlington to play UCLA. Worst case for Hicks would be another injury that makes a shot at playing in the NFL all but impossible.

Future expectations: You wonder how Hicks will be perceived by the NFL considering how little he was able to put on tape in 2012 and 2013. Not his fault, of course, but that puts him at an understandable disadvantage that a strong 2014 showing could help overcome to some extent. Safe to assume Hicks isn't focused on that right now. He could have gone pro if that's all that mattered. Instead, he's on the comeback trail knowing full well that the future is now.