One of the biggest storylines for the Georgia-Auburn showdown is George Pickens, the dynamic freshman receiver for the Bulldogs.
On last year’s signing day, the 5-star recruit from Hoover, Ala., famously flipped from Auburn to UGA. No one saw it coming, at least publicly.
And Pickens’ change of heart caused quite a stir among Auburn fans – and within the Tigers football program.
It got so ugly that even two current Auburn players, Coynis Miller Jr. and Anthony Schwartz, went on social media to suggest that money was involved in Pickens’ last-minute flip.
Even Auburn coach Gus Malzahn broke protocol to comment on the big fish that got away.
For the record, de-commitments and “flips” are just a normal part of recruiting. Every college, including UGA, loses some and wins some. The recruiting process can be a heavy burden on some teenagers.
Back to Pickens: He is from Hoover, located around 100 miles from Auburn. He had been a long-time commitment to Tigers – in fact, Pickens was the first pledge for Auburn’s 2019 class. It was a body blow to the Tigers when Pickens bailed out at the last minute.
At the time, UGA fans seemed not to know what to really make out of it – other than the signing of Pickens filled in the gap of disappointment for Bulldog fans reeling over the loss of another 5-star receiver (Jadon Haselwood, who flipped from UGA to Oklahoma). Pickens was seemingly a gift out of nowhere.
However, this week … last year’s Auburn overreaction to the Pickens’ flip makes a lot of sense, as the freshman has established himself as one of the most promising young talents in college football in a very short amount of time. While many 5-star signees from last year are still adjusting to the collegiate level, Pickens is soaring. He had two touchdowns last week vs. Missouri, with a penalty reversing a third score.
The early comparisons to A.J. Green don’t seem as far-fetched now.
If things go Georgia’s way, Pickens could make a lot more Auburn players mad again on Saturday.