ATHENS — George Pickens. That’s spelled P-I-C-K-E-N-S.
Georgia’s freshman receiver has yet to appear in a college football game, but already, he has a made a name for himself beyond his 5-star high school ranking.
At least two Bulldogs players — Richard LeConte and Jake Fromm — had already compared Pickens to the program’s greatest modern-era receiver, A.J. Green.
Saturday night, proof surfaced.
A grainy video from a Sanford Stadium replay screen leaked out over internet, fueling Georgia fans’ anticipation for the start of the season.
Just like Pickens, it can’t arrive soon enough.
Here’s the GIF in case it’s pulled. pic.twitter.com/qgNE3fsiL9
— Parrish Walton (@ParrishWalton) August 11, 2019
The Bulldogs’ first-team offense needs Pickens on the field. Yesterday.
New offensive coordinator James Coley said it himself last week: “Players, not plays.”
Coach Kirby Smart looked to play it off when asked specifically about Pickens’ one-handed catch.
“George was out there and has been catching the ball every day” Smart said, “but so was Dom (Dominick Blaylock), Tyler Simmons, D-Rob (Demetris Robertson), Matt Landers, Cager, all those guys were.”
Sure, Coach, but they weren’t making THAT kind of catch.
Fact is, Smart probably knew what kind of catch he had in Pickens when he flipped him from Auburn on National Signing Day.
If anyone knows how to I.D. a receiver, it’s a former All-SEC defensive back like Smart.
An impromptu dunk sessions during the Georgia team’s visit to Camp Sunshine this summer provided clues.
There was Pickens, delighting cancer-stricken youth, soaring through the air dunking the basketball.
It proved merely an appetizer for the main course, football season.
To review, Pickens’ decision to shun the Tigers for the Bulldogs sent shockwaves through the recruiting industry and caught his coaches at Hoover High School off guard last February.
“You can possibly be wearing a ring, you can go to the NFL,” Pickens said of his decision at the time. “That’s really what is in my mind right now with Georgia.”
Catches like the one he made Saturday will keep Pickens on the minds of Georgia fans and in the nightmares of Vanderbilt defensive backs preparing for the Aug. 31 opener.
For all the talk of the early signing period, and the importance of UGA’s 14 early enrollees, Pickens might ultimately be the most important newcomer on the Georgia football team.
Fromm and the first-team offense struggled against the second-team defense on Saturday, Smart indicated.
Coley’s revamped passing game — or any other passing game, for that matter — could use a dose of Pickens.
Indeed, Georgia’s recently promoted offensive coordinator knows better than anyone it’s players like Pickens that make schemes and playcalls look good.
It could be as simple as telling Pickens to run straight down field and catch the ball when it’s thrown his way.
But no, Coley wants Pickens and freshman slot receiver Dominick Blaylock more involved than that.
“I don’t think you simplify it for them early — I think you figure out how much they can retain, what they are bringing to the table,” Coley said.
“And then at some point, you sit back and say, ‘Okay, this guy has exceptional skill, we’re going to feature him doing this and that …. “
Some point has arrived.
Smart’s signing day surprise took Georgia from slim pickings at receiver to the celebrated George Pickens.
Georgia football Scrimmage One