In 1970, Hicks came onto the Buckeye scene and won the job as a starting tackle. He missed the last 6 games of the 1971 season due to a knee injury, and was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA. He rebounded to put together two spectacular seasons in 1972 and 1973. During Hicks' three years, Ohio State posted a 28-3-1 record, and each year, Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship and went to the Rose Bowl, making Hicks the first person from OSU to play in three Rose Bowls.
In 1972 Hicks was recognized as a First Team All-America selection and earned his first of two All-Big Ten honors. He repeated his All-Conference honors his senior year and again earned All-America honors, this time as a unanimous selection. His stellar senior season and dominance of the line of scrimmage caught the eye of the voters as Hicks won the Lombardi Award as the nation's most outstanding lineman and the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman. He was the runner up to running back John Cappelletti of Penn State in the voting for the 1973 Heisman trophy.
The 6-3, 258 pound tackle started as a sophomore in 1970 when freshman weren't eligible, and helped them go to the Rose Bowl. In 1971, he started off the season in dominant fashion before injuring his knee and missing the last six games of the season. After being granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, he came back to become an All-American in 1972 helping the Buckeyes to go back to the Rose Bowl. Then he had his monster 1973 season. A first round draft pick of the New York Giants, he was named the NFC Rookie of the Year in 1974. However, injuries would put a halt to his pro career after just 4 seasons.
Hicks was the first player to ever start in three Rose Bowls and was part of a monster Ohio State team. The unbeaten Buckeyes lost to Stanford 27-17 in the 1971 Rose Bowl. Next year at the 1973 game, Ohio State got steamrolled by USC 42-17. But the 1974 Rose Bowl game would be unbeaten Ohio State's year to steamroll USC 42-21 as Hicks (Archie Griffin, Pete Johnson?) led the way to 323 rushing yards.