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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Braxton Hicks. He just might be the most appropriately named Bulldog in the 2020 recruiting class as a preferred walk-on.

Braxton Hicks: The uncommon yet fitting name of a future Georgia Bulldog

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry details a preferred walk-on to Georgia in the 2020 class. Braxton Hicks will have a name that mothers and fathers might know about, but maybe not recruiting fans. 

The mothers of DawgNation might have the best grasp of this story right from the start. Maybe those recent doting Dads will, too.

Or the fathers who paid close attention during their pregnancies.

Let’s begin by stating Braxton Hicks is a preferred walk-on for the 2020 class for Georgia. He hails from Rabun County. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound receiver was an All-State player this past season.

This is about the time where those DawgNation moms should say: Did I really just read Braxton Hicks? 

Hicks caught 183 passes for 3,490 yards and 46 touchdowns in his Rabun County career. Those big plays went for 19.1 yards per catch. He was also a standout defensive back for his Wildcats.

And his name really is Braxton Hicks.

That’s no typo. No play on words. His mother, DeAnna Hicks, politely assures DawgNation it was no ploy meant “to get everybody tickled” as she eloquently put it.

Rabun County coach Jaybo Shaw “gets tickled” when that subject of his name too. Most do.

“I didn’t know about it,” Shaw said. “I didn’t know about it until he was probably like a junior and I think the Fox 5 crew said something and I was like ‘what’ with that?”

Shaw’s reaction to that on-air quip was the common one.

“My wife had to tell me,” Shaw said.

Hicks first started raising eyebrows when he began to show up making big plays on local Atlanta sportscasts. DeAnna Hicks thinks Ken Rodriguez of Fox5 Atlanta was the first. It was after a big touchdown against White County.

“At that point Braxton thought his name was cool,” Wayne Hicks said. “Up to that point, he was like ‘Dad why did Mom name me this?’ with all of that. He thinks it is a fun name now because he has gotten a little popularity off of it.”

He gets it.

“I love it now,” Braxton Hicks said. “Whenever I get on their highlights they always have something fun or funny to say about my name.”

Pause button: What is all this Braxton Hicks stuff? 

Let’s take a step back by sharing a few quick definitions.

Miriam Webster dictionary: “Relatively painless nonrhythmic contractions of the uterus that occur during pregnancy with increasing frequency over time but are not associated with labor.”

Google search top result: “Braxton Hicks are when the womb contracts and relaxes. Sometimes they are known as false labor pains. Not all women will have Braxton Hicks contractions. If you do, you’ll usually feel them during the second or third trimester. Braxton Hicks are completely normal and many women experience them during pregnancy.”

DawgNation recruiting dictionary:  “The name given to a preferred walk-on receiver from Rabun County who averaged 11 touchdowns catches per season of his varsity career. Hicks also snagged five interceptions as a senior for a 12-1 state title contender. The name, although synonymous with expectant mothers, fits Hicks snug like his receiver gloves. That’s because he’s a fighter.”

Braxton Hicks-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Braxton Hicks. Wait until you read where he actually got that name from. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The real reason why Braxton Hicks fits a future Bulldog

His parents are not obstetricians. His mother is not a labor and delivery nurse. Or a comedian.

“The name Braxton itself means strong,” Braxton Hicks said.

He has fun with it.

“I love when I go meet folks and meet some moms,” he said. “They hear that and go ‘oh my gosh did you’ and then I tell them the story. I love it. I just think now that it is fun.”

Well, he doesn’t tell them the whole story.

His father, Wayne, is in sales. DeAnna Hicks is a dental hygienist for her vocation.

They were just flipping through a calendar that had a roll call of names early on in DeAnna’s term.

“Braxton always seemed to me like a powerful name,” Wayne Hicks said. “It seemed like a strong name to me. I loved the name. But of course, I am a dude. I didn’t look into it detailed with all of that and what it all meant.”

Then they began to share the name with their family, friends and peers.

“They were always like ‘Hey you know what that means right?’ and we certainly did,” Wayne Hicks said.

Braxton Hicks-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Braxton Hicks was overjoyed to become a Georgia Bulldog in the 2020 recruiting class as a preferred walk-on. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The name “Braxton” was the runaway leader.

It was certainly the choice by the time DeAnna started having severe Braxton Hicks contractions of her own.

“We ended up having a bunch of those Braxton Hicks contractions,” his mother said.

They certainly did.

“A bunch,” his father affirmed.

She estimated that she started her false Braxton Hicks contractions at 30 weeks. It was still 10 long weeks before Braxton would be full term.

DeAnna Hicks began to lapse into labor at 32 weeks. She had to be given meds to halt that on a number of occasions.

Young Braxton still needed to grow. It was too soon to deliver.

“They stropped me three times from having him and they finally said we couldn’t stop you anymore,” DeAnna Hicks said. “They said if you go into labor again you will just have to him because it was too dangerous to the baby.”

It meant Braxton Hicks was born on Jan. 2, 2001. That was six weeks in advance of an expected due date of February 11, 2001.

That meant the first few fragile weeks of his precious life were spent in a Neo-natal intensive care unit. DeAnna was there every morning to hope and pray for Braxton to grow big and strong, but then she had to go home every trying night.

“Of course we knew the name Braxton Hicks at that time meant early contractions,” his father Wayne Hicks said. “But as we looked into it, the battle he did and everything we went through we decided that Braxton was obviously the name we wanted to go with.”

Hicks was born tiny. Maybe 18 inches. He was four pounds and 11 ounces. He was so slight his father remembers being able to palm him in his hand.

He was expected to spend six weeks in that Neo-natal unit. But he was healthy and strong enough to go home after approximately two weeks.

He added almost 11 ounces of body weight in that time.

“We had this thought process of ‘I wonder if he is going to be picked at later on in life’ but we figured with everything he had battled through in coming into this world so early that the name just had to fit,” his father said.

He developed quickly. That’s why they knew they were bringing home a fighter.

Braxton didn’t stop. He kept growing like a stubborn path of Georgia kudzu. He wound up bigger than his peers in kindergarten and elementary school.

They now feel blessed to have been able to give him that name.

“When he played football early on, he was almost a full helmet taller than everybody,” DeAnna Hicks said. “Even after coming into this world so early.”

When Hicks was in the seventh grade, he was already able to slam home a basketball.

“Braxton just meant strong to us,” DeAnna Hicks said. “Now it seems like anything everything that Braxton has kind of done growing up has been early. It just seemed like it. It really did suit him.”

Braxton Hicks-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Braxton Hicks turned 19 years of age back in January. His father said it was fitting that he was born during the thrust of the NCAA bowl games marathon from Dec. 31-Jan. 2 after the 2000 season. He spent those days in the hospital awaiting his premature delivery on Jan. 2, 2001. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

What Braxton Hicks will bring to Georgia

Hicks will bring something to Georgia. Those who know him well can testify to that.

“He’s pretty fast but I know he doesn’t look like it,” Rabun County senior OL Will Hightower said. “His leadership is also out the roof and he can jump. Braxton can jump out of the gym.”

Sam Pitman actually offered Hicks the preferred walk-on slot last season before the South Carolina game. Pittman and receivers coach Cortez Hankton made a beeline to Hicks and his family when they showed up for that game.

It says a lot about Pittman. We might even jest that it was a strong early contraction on the recruiting trail which would lead him to Georgia.

“When he offered me to come to play at Georgia he said ‘I am about to offer you this’ and ‘you’re going to shake my head right now and you’re going to come to Georgia’ and he said ‘Now, you can shake my hand’ and I was like stunned,” Hicks said. “I didn’t even have time to think about it yet.”

But then he shook Pittman’s hand.

“Yes sir,” Hicks recalls saying. “I’m coming.”

He has two younger sisters. The Hicks children all came early, but he was the only one who had to stay in a Neo-natal unit for his lungs to develop.

“He’s always been the one who could not sit still growing up,” his mother said. “He’s always had to be moving and doing something. Constantly.”

Braxton Hicks: Rabun County coach Jaybo Shaw weighs in 

Hicks has been teammates for the last two years with 5-star QB Gunner Stockton in the 2022 class. Stockton was also the subject of a recent DawgNation feature piece. 

But Shaw states plainly that this wasn’t long-range chess by the Georgia staff to have an edge in recruiting Stockton one day.

“Braxton stands on his own here,” Shaw said. “I think that. I really do. Braxton is not going to be the most explosive player and I’m sure there are people outside of myself or our football program that probably think that this is a chess move for Gunner down the road. But I think that being with Braxton for four years he’s earned that preferred walk-on spot. I think if it wasn’t Georgia, he’d have another preferred walk-on spot at a school at that level.”

Hicks earned one of the 10 preferred walk-on slots that Georgia extends every recruiting class through his own merit. Maybe it was because of those 120 catches, 2,258 yards and 26 touchdowns he stacked up in 2018 and 2019.

“I think one of the greatest compliments you can give Braxton is he’s going to be a great teammate and whatever coach [Kirby] Smart tells him his role is going to be he is going to take that and do it,” Jaybo Shaw said. “He’ll do it to the best of his ability and he’ll be a great locker room guy. When he walks on campus he is not going to be worrying about how many touches he gets.”

Look for Hicks to start out as a scout team piece at receiver and on special teams.

“But he’s looking to show up there and be ready,” his father Wayne Hicks said. “Not report to Georgia and get ready.”

He had some scholarship opportunities but wound up wanting to be a Bulldog. Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and Georgia State were all interested. They all had Hicks on their board for a long time.

He had offers from the services academies but Athens just felt like home. The networking opportunities for a former member of the UGA football team with a degree in hand are just that strong.

“When he called me about that preferred walk-on there was pure happiness on the other line,” Shaw said. “There was no ‘at least I’ve got this if something else doesn’t show up and I’ll see what happens later’ and all that. This was more I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity and I just can’t wait for it to happen here for this with Braxton.”

 

 

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