When Geremy Hickbottom arrived in Nashville during the spring to meet with new Tennessee State head coach Eddie George and NFL-bred offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, he wasn’t preparing to leave without committing to the program.
“What stood out to me is this, George said on the Beyond the Roar podcast, “he came for a visit but his car was packed with all of his things. I get chills when I think about it.
“He came here for a purpose.”
For the graduate transfer, it’s been a long six-month journey that found him leaving Grambling State amid what was a tumultuous spring season before initially committing to Bethune-Cookman.
Tennessee State seemed to be the perfect fit for a player who needed a veteran presence at the position and coaching staff that was rebuilding.
Hickbottom finished his Grambling State career with 22 career starts, more than 3,000 passing yards and 44 total touchdowns in three seasons there.
The six other quarterbacks currently on the roster at Tennessee State didn’t have near the collegiate experience.
Right away the 6-foot-4, 210-pound quarterback made an immediate impression on Jackson with his quick dedication to the new-look TSU culture.
“He wants to be here,” said Jackson. “He understands the situation but he wants to be here, and to me that’s half the battle. You have to have people who want to be in this environment, and he came in and put his head down and he went to work.
“He wasn’t concerned about anything else other than how can I make TSU better. How I can be the best quarterback to TSU.”
In the season opener his former team Grambling State, Hickbottom went 8-of-10 for 65 yards in 16-10 loss. Last week against Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic, the redshirt senior struggled, going 9-for-15 for 138 yards and a touchdown against a ferocious JSU defense.
Despite the early-season setback, George told the media Wednesday that Hickbottom would start against Kentucky State in the Tigers’ home opener.
And for good reason, the first-year head coach called Hickbottom “a culture changer in how you go about your business.”