Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Tony Walsh/UGAAA
Eric Stokes is expected to be one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC this season.

Eric Stokes details what it’s like practicing against George Pickens, young Georgia receivers

George Pickens did it again this weekend. The SEC Network released some practice footage of Pickens making another acrobatic catch during a Georgia practice. It’s something he did last preseason and then made a number of similar catches during the season for the Bulldogs.

But while many saw the Pickens catch as a highlight, Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes saw the play a little differently.

“I’m always gonna say he pushed off but in the SEC you already know they don’t call offensive pass interference so we just gotta play it,” Stokes said with a smile.

Related: WATCH: D’Wan Mathis throws dart, George Pickens’ spectacular catch

Stokes and Pickens match-up quite often during practice, with the latter being Georgia’s top wide receiver and the former being the Bulldogs’ top cornerback. Both players were named to the Second Team Preseason All-SEC by the league’s coaches.

There’s a realistic world where both players end up on the First Team come the end of the season as well. And if that’s the case, it will be because of the many sparring sessions the two have at practice.

“Iron sharpens iron. Me and George go at it every single day,” Stokes said. “I know he’s going to make me better and I know for a fact I’m going to make him better. We’re pushing each other to be the best that we can be.”

Stokes and Pickens are both extremely competitive individuals and the competition can get a little chippy.

And the junior cornerback made it clear that each player wins some battles, even if Stokes’ never end up as viral clips.

“If he catch a ball, I’m mad but I know for a fact I’ll still tell him it’s a great catch but next play I’m going to get you,” Stokes said. “And vice versa, if I make a stop, I’m talking my smack to him. I know that next play, it’s only going to make him madder and push me even hard. So I have to be ready for any little thing he can do.”

Pickens isn’t the only wide receiver Stokes is sparring with this fall, as he made it known he’s mixed up with some of Georgia’s talented freshman wide receivers. The Bulldogs signed five in total as a part of the 2020 recruiting class.

The two that have stood out so far to Stokes have been Jermaine Burton and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Burton has impressed many so far during camp and seems to have the edge in earning significant snaps on Saturday.

Part of that can be chalked up to his willingness to battle with Stokes during practice.

“He always calls me out,” Stokes said of Burton. “In any little competition I know he’s calling me out because he knows I’m going to push, talk my smack, do everything to him to make him better as a person.”

Related: Jermaine Burton attempting to be UGA’s 2020 version of George Pickens

As for Rosemy-Jacksaint, he’s wanting Stokes to make him better so that he can handle the rigors of SEC football. And the veteran Stokes is more than happy to oblige.

“I’m going to talk my smack to him too to where I’m pushing him even more,” Stokes said. “He always says, ‘make me better, make me better.’ So I’m going to do everything in my power to make you better.”

Last season, Stokes finished with 30 tackles, one bone-crushing sack against Tennessee that led to a Tae Crowder touchdown and 9 pass break-ups. For all his talent and success though, Stokes is yet to record an interception in his Georgia career. Fellow cornerbacks Tyson Campbell and DJ Daniel also have zero career interceptions.

Which is why there seems to be an added emphasis on creating turnovers this season for the Georgia defense.

“It’s all about the ball. We want the ball, the ball, the ball. We did not create as many turnovers as we knew and thought we should,” Stokes said. “So, everything is about the finish, the finish for us. We’re trying to do anything to get the ball out— rip at the ball, [and] if the ball is in the air, it’s our ball.

“The emphasis is on the ball, the ball, the ball.”

If he makes a few more plays on the ball, he’ll end up with his fair share of highlight plays to go along with the many Pickens seems to make. The two will get their first chance to make those plays starting on Saturday, as the Bulldogs take on Arkansas at 4 p.m. The game is set to air on the SEC Network.

Eric Stokes details what it’s like practicing against George Pickens, young Georgia receivers

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

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.