New Orleans Saints Defensive Tackle Akiem Hicks
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Friday, April 27, 2012
Q: Can you describe your journey and how you got to being selected by the Saints in the NFL Draft?
A: "It's been a long one and a rough one at times. 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."
Q: Other than the combine, had you had any contact with the Saints?
A: "No. The contact I had with them was at the combine. We had talked. I remember a comment that someone had made, they asked me if I would have a problem coming back to Louisiana. I said, 'no, the state of Louisiana has done nothing to me and it is not going to be a problem for me to play for the New Orleans Saints.'"
Q: Who asked you that?
A: "I don't remember who it was. It could have been a scout, it could have been a reporter. It was something that stuck with me. It is funny that this happened because I actually said that quote to somebody the other day when they were asking me about who I was going to be drafted by. It is just a blessing."
Q: Have you followed this team pretty closely?
A: "Who doesn't watch Drew Brees break records? I watch football. You can't watch football without watching the New Orleans Saints."
Q: What happened to you at LSU?
A: "All of that is in writing on the internet. There is a 56-page report about what happened. It wasn't a good situation. Some things happened that I had no control over. It just didn't go the right way. That is just something I had to deal with. I was given the opportunity, after that, to continue my football collegiate career to go up to the University of Regina. They gave me a chance that I wasn't getting. It was a blessing and I took it in full stride. We made it through. It was a blessing. I am just thankful."
Q: What specifically wasn't a good situation at LSU?
A: "There were recruiting violations that caused me to be ineligible to play at Louisiana State University. That is what happened."
Q: What pushed you to get back in to football?
A: "To tell you the truth, the time off wasn't planned. It wasn't part of the plan to have those five months of not playing football. Those were five months (that) were a time of thought and wonder if I was ever going to play football collegiately or professionally again. In those five months, I worked, worked out, kept my faith and I came through. I am sure you heard I was working for DIRECTV. I worked in the call center from 9 a.m. in the morning until 5 o'clock in the afternoon taking care of business. When I got the chance to play for the Toronto Argonauts, that was a blessing in itself. When the University of Regina came along, it felt like the right fit. It felt like something that I needed to do for myself to continue my education, as well as to continue playing football."
Q: What did the week at the East-West Shrine Game do for you?
A: "That was awesome to get invited to that game. I know I keep saying the word blessing, but every instance didn't have to happen for me. That's why I think even being invited to that East-West game was it. I went up there and received a lot of attention from the scouts. I did the best that I could in competition. It was a successful week. Anybody can tell you that the East-West Shrine Game, like the combine, is very hectic. There are a lot of scouts there. It gets a lot of attention. The attention was welcomed with open arms."
Q: What were you doing and who were you with when you found out?
A: "I am with my family. I know you told me to be in a quiet place… I don't think I can find one today. I am with my mom, my sisters, my brother, my dad, my friends, my family, my aunties, my cousins, my friends from junior college that we lived together and struggled every day trying to make it through the junior college years. I'm with all the people that loved and stuck with me through it all."
Q: Where are you?
A: "Sacramento, California."
Q: What are your expectations of coming here and how quickly do you think you can make an impact?
A: "If you ask any defensive player, the attitude that we have is that we want to play today. That is the ambition that I come in with. There is nothing that says that is the wrong ambition to have. I know that I have a lot to learn and I am ready to learn from the well-established veterans on that team that have been doing this for a lot more years than I. I am definitely coming to compete, learn, and get better."
Q: What kind of transition do you expect coming from Canada?
A: "Of course there is a little bit of a transition. At the end of the day, it is football in my opinion. Whether you are a yard off the ball or right in somebody's face, football is football. I am ready to be a New Orleans Saint and to be down there in New Orleans."
Q: Have you followed the scandals going on involving the team?
A: "I have heard of it. I have heard a lot about it. I have Sirius Satellite, so they always have something about you guys on Sirius XM. It is a situation, I am sure is going to be dealt with the best way that it can."
Q: Did that give you any pause when they selected you?
A: "No. No. Not at all. I am ready to play football. The New Orleans Saints aren't going anywhere. They are going to be here for years."
Q: Does it give you more of an opportunity if some players are unavailable?
A: "I don't think about what is not going to be there, I think about what is going to be there. When I get there, I am sure there is going to be a group of guys that want to play as much as I do. I am ready to play."
Q: When do you expect to get here?
A: "A week from now. Rookie camp. We were talking logistics earlier, but as you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement in this house."
Q: Who called you?
A: "I talked to everybody. It was an exciting time."
Q: Was it Joe Vitt? What did he say?
A: "Yes. Just be ready to play. They talked about not having a first and second round pick and that I should come in ready to play. That is what I am ready to do."