ATHENS — George Pickens has officially lifted off at Georgia, the true freshman leading the Bulldogs in receiving for the first of what one imagines would be several times on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Pickens recorded four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Three of Pickens catches took place in a 5-minute span of the second quarter, the third a 15-yard TD catch from Jake Fromm that ended the starting quarterback’s day.
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Fromm, who in the offseason compared Pickens to Georgia receiver legend A.J. Green, took Pickens’ performance in stride.
“Yeah, he’s a big-time guy, he’s a really good player, he needs to clean up some of the little details, but I think he has tremendous potential, and I hope we can go out and play better next week,” Fromm said. “He’s a guy who has come in and worked his tail off, especially in the summer and in camp.
“He’s made plays like that all throughout camp and the scrimmages, both, so just a matter of time before he played some football like that.”
Pickens has also drawn a personal foul penalty and came close to getting another the first week of the season.
Pickens threw the football at a Murray State player at the end of a play, drawing the flag last Saturday and a conversation with Kirby Smart on the sideline.
“He’s got to learn to control his emotions a little bit, he’s very emotional,” Smart said. “He’s a passionate player. I don’t ever want to take that away from him because I think that makes him who he is.
“But he’s got to be smart, play within our system and understand that just because you make a play you can’t talk to the opponent.”
Pickens, in short, must grow up with the spotlight shining down on him as a key member on the No. 3-ranked team in the nation.
Pickens’ talents are unquestionable, and as Smart pointed out, go beyond the lunging catch he made on a Fromm bomb.
“Probably the most impressive thing he did today was the block on D’Andre Swift’s long run,” Smart said. “He did a great job of going after the safety, and that was able to spring Swift. When you can do that as a freshman, that’s more impressive to me than diving and catching the ball.
“He’s grown as a player.”
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