For George Pickens, almost all of the public backlash has faded away from when the 5-star receiver shockingly flipped from Auburn to UGA on last February’s National Signing Day.
“I think people are over it,” said Josh Niblett, who coached Pickens at Hoover (Ala.) High School.
It was a devastating blow for Auburn, as Pickens was a homegrown talent from the state of Alabama, along with a cornerstone of the Tigers’ recruiting class. In fact, he was the first member of the 2019 class to commit to Auburn.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was so bothered by the change of events that he made the rare exception to mention Pickens in his signing-day press conference, although his words were brief.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Pickens changed his mind because Georgia was on his mind. He knew he was going to catch a lot of grief on social media from Auburn fans, and even stated exactly that to reporters after he finished signing his paperwork with Georgia (In fairness to Auburn fans, it’s common for fans of any school to be upset when an elite recruit leaves the state or a longtime commit switches at the last minute).
It got so ugly on Twitter that even two players on the current Auburn roster suggested that money was involved in Pickens’ last-minute change of heart.
Nowadays, that fury and intense reaction seems like a distant memory.
“With George being committed to Auburn for awhile, the Auburn faithful expected him to go there,” Niblett said. “And then when he didn’t go there, I’m sure some of them were upset. However, I think in the long run, people begin to understand you want what is best for the kid.
“George wanted to go to a place where he felt like would be the best fit, where he felt like he was going to get the opportunity play early, and where he felt like he was going to grow and develop in the future. He just liked the situation at Georgia.
“Honestly, a lot of that has already blown over, so it’s not a big deal.”
That’s good news for everybody, but you can expect for this topic to surface again when UGA plays at Auburn on Nov. 16.