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George Pickens to have surgery on knee after ACL injury

The University of Georgia confirmed that junior wide receiver George Pickens suffered a non-contact injury to his knee in practice on Tuesday that will require surgery on his ACL.

The school put out a statement confirming the news.

“The good news is that the MRI showed it to be an isolated injury with no other structures involved,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said.  “George is a hard worker. I know he will bring the same work ethic to rehab that he shows in practice every day.”

Pickens was expected to be a significant part of Georgia’s offense this coming season after putting up monster numbers once JT Daniels took over as the starting quarterback. As a sophomore, Pickens caught 36 passes for 513 receiving yards.

In Georgia’s final four games, Pickens caught 23 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns. Daniels was the starting quarterback for all those games, which were also Georgia wins.

Pickens signed with Georgia as a 5-star wide receiver in the 2019 class and has so far lived up to the hype he arrived with. He led Georgia in every major statistical category as a freshman.

Pickens had impressed coaches with how he had grown this offseason.

“It’s just one of continued growth and maturity, and he has embraced it,” Georgia wide receiver coach Cortez Hankton said of Pickens in March. “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. It really shines brighter. For him, he’s embraced that, so I’m looking forward to how he continues to move forward.”

Related: The 5 most interesting things Georgia assistants said about UGA players this week

Georgia’s wide receiver room had finally begun to look like a strength for the 2021 season, with Pickens being a significant reason why. The Bulldogs bring back their top seven pass catchers from the 2020 team.

Georgia was already bringing back two highly touted wide receivers from injury, as Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint are both recovering from season-ending injuries that occurred during the 2020 season.

“Both of those young men are running straight lines and beginning to increase their workload,” Smart said in March about Blaylock and Rosemy-Jacksaint. “They’re not working with us in our offseason conditioning program, meaning they’re not in the actual drill. They have to work separate, but they are increasing speeds.”

Blaylock, Rosemy-Jacksaint and Pickens are the three highest wide receivers signees under Smart.

Without Pickens, look for Georgia to lean even more on Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton. Tight ends John FitzPatrick and Darnell Washington also seem like candidates to receive more targets.

Georgia does bring back Daniels, along with all five scholarship running backs from the 2020 team. The Bulldogs open the 2021 season against Clemson on Sept. 4.

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