ATHENS — The George Pickens hype train continued on Thursday, and of all people, it was the Georgia football defensive backs pumping up the freshman receiver.
“George is a great guy, he plays real fast, he has big, strong hands,” UGA junior safety Richard LeCounte said. “He reminds you a lot of A.J. Green with his skillset to adjust to the ball in the air.
“He’s a great guy, he has a lot to learn, but you see flashes.”
Pickens is listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds on the roster, but he’s at least 6-foot-4 with eye-popping athleticism.
Pickens, like freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock, was a high-profile spring addition.
So far, it’s Pickens who is garnering the most attention in a receiving corps that’s looking to replace its top four pass catchers from the 2018 campaign.
Senior Tyler Simmons, with all of 9 catches last season, is the Bulldogs’ leading returning wide receiver.
“George is a one of a kind player, I’m not lying,” Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes said. “You talk about this (pointing to a leg scrape), it happened today because of George.
“He’s one heckuva wide receiver that we’ve got, George is a real talent, and he’s on top of his releases and all of that,” Stokes said. “So I’m falling in love with George, day by day, just his knowledge, I know he knows what he wants to do, and he’s going for it.”
Bulldogs offensive coordinator James Coley hinted on Monday that Pickens could be an immediate factor in Georgia’s rebuilding receiving corps.
“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, asked about simplifying the offense to get Pickens and Blaylock on the field early.
“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 because this might be too much.’ But ultimately, the goal is not to be so complicated that you can’t execute.”
Pickens moved up to second team on the depth chart on Thursday, and indication he will likely take first-team snap in the team’s first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday.
Even before his first practice, Pickens was impressing teammates with an array of slam dunks during the Bulldogs’ Camp Sunshine appearance
A.J. Green, of course, was the 2008 SEC Freshman of the Year and has gone on to what is surely an NFL Hall of Fame career.
A seven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection, Green was a two-time All-American at Georgia during his three seasons in Athens.
Pickens was the No. 1-ranked player from Alabama (Hoover), a five-star prospect per the 247Sports composite, and the No. 24-ranked player overall.