Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Tony Walsh/UGAAA
George Pickens will once again look to have a breakout season.

George Pickens might benefit the most from year 2 of Todd Monken

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

George Pickens stands to benefit from another year in Todd Monken’s system

For the second consecutive offseason, we’re left to wonder what the ceiling might be for wide receiver George Pickens.

His sophomore season didn’t go as planned for the talented wide receiver, or the rest of the Georgia offense. Thanks to middling quarterback play and a mid-season injury that kept him out of games against Kentucky and Florida, Pickens didn’t even end up as Georgia’s leading receiver, as he had one fewer yard than Kearis Jackson.

Like the rest of the offense though, Pickens’ production picked up noticeably once JT Daniels became the starting quarterback. Of Pickens’ 513 receiving yards, 373 of them came in Georgia’s final four games when Daniels was at quarterback.

Half of Pickens’ eight touchdown catches came in those four games. He topped 100-yards in the wins over Missouri and Cincinnati, playing his best at the end of the season.

It seemed that in those final two games, Pickens had once again shown why he entered 2020 with such great promise. That has now rolled over into 2021 offseason as well.

If you expand Pickens’ four-game sample with Daniels over the course of a 12-game season, he’d finish with 69 catches for 1,129 yards and 12 touchdowns. It would pretty clearly be the greatest season in program history for Georgia.

It would also be the norm for receivers under Monken. In his time in the NFL, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry all topped the 1,000-yard mark.

The last time Monken got to work with a player as talented as Pickens at the college level it was Justin Blackmon on the 2011 Oklahoma State team. He put up an absurd 122-catch season for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdown season for the Cowboys, who finished the season 12-1 with the No. 3 ranking.

Pickens would have to have a truly monster season to produce those numbers. But if you read the national media, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.

Multiple outlets this offseason have identified Pickens as the top wide receiver in the SEC for this coming season. As Georgia approaches the start of the 2021 season, the hype will only continue to build for Pickens.

Especially when you factor in that for the first time in his Georgia career he will get to showcase his talents in spring practice.

Pickens was not an early enrollee as a part of the 2019 signing class, making his freshman season where he led the Bulldogs in receiving yards, catches and touchdown receptions all the more impressive.

Last spring, Pickens and every other Bulldog had spring practice wiped out by the pandemic.

Now as a junior, he’s one of 52 Bulldogs who will be going through spring practice for the first time. Daniels and Monken figure to draw most of the attention as those going through spring practice the first time as well.

But don’t forget about Pickens, who might be the most talented player on Georgia’s team.

Related: Best of DawgNation: Why Georgia needs a big year from George Pickens

The junior wide receiver isn’t without his flaws though. He was famously ejected for fighting against Georgia Tech as a freshman, forcing him to miss the first half of the SEC championship game against LSU.

In 2020, Pickens drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spraying water in the face of Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guaratono.

That’s why Pickens has focused just as much this offseason on growing in the mental aspect of the game as he has in the physical side.

“It’s just one of continued growth and maturity, and he has embraced it,” Georgia wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton said of Pickens. “When you look at our entire team and you talk about altruism, I think there’s this aura of selflessness and a positive vibe, which has really continued to grow.

“For him, he’s embraced that, so I’m looking forward to how he continues to move forward.”

As hard as it is to believe, Pickens is now considered a veteran in the wide receiver room. Following the departures of Makiya Tongue, Trey Blount, Matt Landers and Tommy Bush this offseason, only Demetris Robertson and Jackson have more time in a Georgia uniform than Pickens.

Related: Even amid departures, Kirby Smart feeling good about wide receiver thanks to 2020 signing class

If Pickens plays up to his potential this season, it could also very well be his final one in a Georgia uniform. Anyone who has seen Pickens play can tell he’s destined for the Sunday league.

When Hankton was speaking about the wide receiver, he acknowledged that group has talent, led by Pickens.

The Georgia wide receivers coach also stressed the importance of continuing to improve. If Pickens does that, he easily could become one of the top receivers in just the SEC but the country.

“We are talented and you see some flashes of some things but we have to become more consistent and the position and there are some things that we have to improve on,” Hankton said. “We can’t be complacent and comfortable just because we have the skill set to perform at a high level.

“We need to make sure, day-in and day-out, that we compete and be very intentional about getting better at the things that we can improve on.”

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

Dawgs on Twitter

Good Dawg of the Day

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.