Ole Miss football coach Ed Orgeron can really recruit.

Just ask Reggie Hicks, a Madison Central senior and another gem from the 2006 recruiting class who “O” was able to lure to Oxford.

While other schools made their bids for the Jaguars’ outstanding running back – schools like Missouri, Alabama and Louisiana Lafayette...

“No one was near Ole Miss,” said Hicks when it came to making his list.

Coach O was the only head coach interested enough to make a personal visit to the Hicks’ home, Reggie said, and that helped his comfort level rise to the point of signing.

“When he came, it wasn’t even like it was Coach Orgeron,” Hicks said. “It was like, ‘That’s my boy, Ed, over there.’”

Needless to say, Madison Central’s All-Region tailback and fullback fully embraces the idea of playing for Ole Miss. When he attended a mock signing at his high school last Wednesday, the red Rebels cap he sported looked like it had been broken in already.

“Ole Miss has been recruiting me from the beginning,” Hicks said. “This is definitely the best fit. They never backed off or backed down. When I got comfortable signing, I felt like I was part of the family already.”

Ole Miss first showed interest in Hicks after watching him in a spring game toward the end of his junior year.

Hicks, who turned 18 on Jan. 2, has spent time with a couple school families throughout high school. After spending two years at St. Joseph Catholic school in Madison as a quarterback and tailback, Hicks made the transition to Madison Central his junior year, knowing the greater possibility there of landing a football scholarship.

“That was part of his reason for transferring here,” said Ted Taylor, his Madison Central coach.

But Tim Buckley, a fellow member of this May’s graduating class who recently signed to play at Alcorn State, already held the reigns at quarterback.

So Hicks developed into a lead blocker, but by his senior year, he was leading the team in carries.

“He did all we required of him here, and he did a lot of extra (work) on his own,” Taylor said. “He won’t have any trouble adjusting to the work ethic there.”

While at least five other Jaguar players will play football at the college level, none of his teammates from this year or any other will be playing up in Oxford. But Hicks, who many have said has a terrific attitude, has the previous experience of fitting into a new system.

“It was great here at Madison Central,” Hicks said. “Coach Taylor brought me in when I was coming from St. Joe and treated me with a lot of respect. When I got here, they treated me as one of their own, and great things happened.”

Great things to the tune of 1,133 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season. ESPN.com rated him the No. 13 fullback in the nation.

At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Hicks seems to be more fitted to play tailback for the Rebs, but Orgeron just told him to come as he is and they’ll take it from there, Hicks said, adding that he and Coach O share a belief in him.

“Football is just football,” he said. “I’m not going to make it something it’s not. All I’ve got to do is go out and play my hardest, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Reggie is the son of Joe and Jacqueline Hicks.

“They love it; they’re proud of me,” he said. “The most important thing is I’m getting a free education, and that’s what they’re most glad about.”

But maybe the pleasure belongs mostly to Ole Miss, which has recruited and signed five running backs, more than Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi combined.

Interestingly enough, one of the five is Meridian’s Cordera Eason, the 2005-2006 Gatorade Player of the Year whose team played Madison Central in the first week of the 2005 season. In that game, Hicks outran Eason by 80 yards.

Other MC football signees

Offensive Lineman Andrew Mason, wide receiver Antyon Gray, cornerback Jameson Smith and quarterback Tim Buckley have signed with Alcorn State University to play football.

Running back Levi Lewis signed with Holmes Community College.