SPECIAL TEAMS!!!! As I've noted, special teams is an area of major, major strength for Northwestern, and although Pat Hickey is the least glamorous part of it, that's the way it should be. He's a 6'0, 205-pound long-snapper, and he does his job, and he does it well.
Let's take a day to celebrate Northwestern's senior long-snapper, because we don't often celebrate our long-snappers.
Hickey is a Chicago native and went to Loyola Academy, where he was a teammate of Brian Mulroe and Chance Carter. He was actually a really, really important player for the Ramblers -- word, they're the Ramblers too? What is it about Loyola-ness and rambling men? Also why is Hamilton's closed again? -- earning team MVP on the squad that won the 2008 Prep Bowl between the best team in Chicago's Catholic league and Chicago's public school league. He played defensive tackle, linebacker, fullback, and, yup, long-snapper, and also played on the school's hockey team, which isn't a common combo. But at 6-foot-nothing and just 200 pounds, he wasn't going to get recruited anywhere. So he took the opportunity to snap for Northwestern.
Hickey redshirted as a freshman, and as a redshirt freshman, was given the responsibility of handling field goal snaps. He was a little shaky though, and that task was reverted to senior John Henry Pace for the majority of the year. As a sophomore and a junior, though, he's handled Northwestern's snapping on all attempts, and has been perfect, so far as we can tell.
Anagram of choice
Discovering the Wildcats' true inner selves through spelling
Pat Hickey, anagrammed, is
You can't just hate everybody. That makes you a bigot, a supremacist, an idiot. You have discriminate discriminately. In our case, it's people stupid and wrong enough to root for teams that aren't the Northwestern Wildcats. In Pat Hickey's case, it's anybody trying to return punts. (Also considered: "Itchy peak," which sounds gross, "Peachy kit," which is what the princess wears in Super Mario Strikers, arguably the greatest game of all time, and "Pike Yacht," which is a fraternity vessel.) It's worth noting that Pat Hickey is the first player for whom his exact name came up in the anagram machine.
Relevant musical selection
"Sippin' on Some Sizzurp," Three 6 Mafia ft. Project Pat, UGK
One of many great songs about the thing that my site is also sort of named after. Congratulations to UGK on becoming the second group to find their way up in here twice, and they really earned it with Pimp C's "WE EAT SO MANY SHRIMP" line. It should be noted that although the reason they made the cut today is the presence of Juicy J's older brother Project Pat, who often features on Three 6's songs, I really have no idea what Pat's role is on this song. It's also v. sad that the way most people know Three 6 Mafia are probably a) getting mentioned in "G6." but v. awesome that the other way people might know them is from the time they were the most excited people ever to get an Oscar.
How he can help
Hickey's gotta just keep doing what he's been doing: snapping the ball without messing up. NU hasn't had a kick or punt blocked in his two years as a full-time starter, and hasn't had to abort any field goal attempts or punts due to a bad snap. That's more than some college -- and even pro -- teams can say. I'm sure there have been "bad" snaps, but Brandon Williams has been able to handle them, either as a punter or holder, and generally accurate placement is part of the reason Jeff Budzien only missed one field goal last year. It's behind-the-scenes-ish, but its nice for us to continue not noticing Pat Hickey.
Hickey should handle both long-snapping roles this year. There is a backup on the roster, redshirt freshman Chris Fitzpatrick, who I believe is the first long-snapper ever to pick up a scholarship to Northwestern -- I don't think Hickey or Pace got one before coming to school, although they might have earned them while here. He should be ready to go next year, and NU shouldn't be worried about recruiting another long-snapper until the Class of 2015, at the earliest.