Tommy Hicks: An open letter to Justyn Ross

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We met briefly once this past summer, but certainly we couldn’t be considered as friends. But I hope you will receive this message as though it was coming from a friend.

Go with what feels right to you.

That’s my basic advice when it comes to your impending decision as to which college you will attend. As crazy as things seem right now, and I assume have been for quite some time when it comes to this particular decision, it really boils down to that type of simplicity.

In your case, if all the reports I have read are accurate, they have some great options available to you. Recognize too the opportunity that is being presented to you — a free college education. Make the most of that opportunity.

As hard as it may seem to separate the two, recognize that your decision isn’t solely a football-based decision. There are academic as well as social considerations to your choice. There are a host of reasons you should select one college over all the other colleges who are offering you a scholarship, not just one reason.

Not only will you play football at the university of your choice, but you will become a member of that university and that community. You should not only feel comfortable running that school’s offensive gameplan, you should feel comfortable in class selections and curriculum, in day-to-day student life, where you will be spending a few years of your life.

If all the reports I have read are correct, and I assume they are, you have some great universities from which to choose. And it should be your decision, your selection; you are the one who must feel the most comfortable in your decision.

I assume you are receiving daily recommendations/suggestions/pleas/pressure from all those around you and even casual acquaintances as to which school you should select. After all, your talents on the football field speak for themselves and no doubt they would rather see you in the uniform of their favorite team, helping the cause of their favorite team, than to see you on the field for an opposing team.

I get that. Some of the pressure or needling is in jest, while others take the “suggestion’’ a bit more seriously.

Go with what feels right to you.


Tommy Hicks, a Phenix City native, has covered sports in Alabama for more than 40 years. Contact him at