2025’s Elijah Hickson wants to be the next Saquon Barkley | Youth1

2025’s Elijah Hickson wants to be the next Saquon Barkley

Elijah Hickson is one of the best players from the Orlando, FL area in the Class of 2025.


The 4-foot-11, 100-pound Hickson, who attends Meadow Woods Middle, is a dynamic player that works on both sides of the ball as a running back and cornerback.


Hickson, who plays for the Osceola Panthers, has earned much recognition during his outstanding career, such as being selected as a Gridiron King 2018 All-Star and to FBU.


Hickson is humbled by the accolades.


“Attending All-Star games teaches me that my hard work pays off,” Hickson said. “It was exciting to compete with players from different states. It was cool to learn from other players.”


No matter the opponent, on each snap Hickson is determined to give it his all.


Hickson is going all out.


The motor is always at full throttle whenever Hickson steps between the lines.


“My mindset is to conquer and take control on every snap of the game. When I play my position I focus on being aggressive and running the ball.  I want to make something happen every time the ball is snapped,” Hickson said. “I want the opponent to have to work for everything they get.”


Hickson has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. Hickson tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.


“What I love most about football is being on the field during gameday. I love the passion and how hyped the crowd gets when I make a big play,” Hickson said. “I love the bond I share with my teammates. There’s nothing like being in the locker room after a win.”


Hickson has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.


The main one is applying perspective to all situations.


“Football has taught me so much about life in general,” Hickson said. “Hard work is undefeated. I have learned that you will never be given anything. You have to earn it.”


Hickson recalls his favorite football memory.


“My favorite memory of playing football is when we traveled to Georgia. We played against Cobb County and Alabama and we beat both teams,” Hickson said. “I learned then that Florida football is the best.”


Chrispin Johnson is in his third season coaching Hickson for the Osceola Panthers organization.  


Johnson explains the best parts of Hickson’s game.


“The best part of his game is the fact he does not stop. He is like the Energizer Bunny,” Johnson said. “Eli is jack rabbit quick. He has great balance and you will not get lower than him. He has vision and the ability to crease defenses.”

Hickson takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Hickson makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.


“I try to be a good teammate by being supporting and leading by example” Hickson said. “The best advice I have gave to my teammates is to block out everyone and focus on your game.”


Johnson adds that Hickson is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.


“Eli is humble and honest,” Johnson said. “He comes from a great family that has instilled in him that hard work is undefeated.”


Hickson is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.


“I’ve learned a lot from my coaches on how to be a better football player and a better person off the field,” Hickson said. “I have learned to be accountable for your actions and to be humble. There’s always going to be people out there that want the same thing you want. So you have to grind at all times.”


Johnson is an advocate of Hickson’s capabilities.


“Eli can take a simple play and make it a big gain,” Johnson said. “This year he was given a chance to close out a game and he did just that. He took a power play 65 yards for the score.”


In addition to making clutch plays, Hickson also has a high level of football IQ as well.


Hickson has excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.


“Eli is super smart not just on the field but in the classroom. He has a great sense for the ball on defense and knows where the first down marker is,” Johnson said. “The offensive side of the ball is where he shows his understanding of space and once he has it, say goodbye.”


Hickson is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.


“I have had the pleasure of training him for several years. He is an amazing kid. He wants to be great,” Johnson said. “He now attends Speed Plus program with Coach Bo Jack. Eli is dedicated to being the best he can be.”


Johnson explains why he compares Hickson to this player.


“He reminds me of De’Anthony Thomas. Small but super explosive,” Johnson said. “He is a true TNT package. He is going to be a problem as he continues to mature.”


Hickson patterns his mentality after this rising running back.


“I look up to Saquon Barkley for the NY Giants,” Hickson said. “I love his work ethic and running style.”


Hickson is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.


“My goal is to continue to get good grades so that I can attend a major college,” Hickson said. “I want my family to be proud of me in everything that I do.”


Hickson has his sights set on becoming an Alabama Crimson Tide player.


“They play my style of football and they have an amazing tradition,” Hickson said. “It would be an honor to play for Nick Saban and help them win another national title.”


Hickson lists math as his favorite subject in school.


“I love math. I’m great at it,” Hickson said. “I’m learning high school algebra in sixth grade.”


Johnson believes the sky is the limit as long as Hickson continues to stay hungry.  


“I truly believe Eli will be another great speed back coming out of Osceola County,” Johnson said. “He is dedicated to making his vision reality.”



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