George Pickens-Hines Ward-Georgia football
George Pickens is recovering from a knee injury.

Divaad Wilson, Hines Ward and the importance of rehab when it comes to potential George Pickens return

Most Georgia fans haven’t thought too much about former defensive back Divaad Wilson. The former Georgia defensive back transferred to Central Florida in 2020 after signing as a member of the 2018 recruiting class.

Wilson made a handful of impact plays, specifically an interception in the 2019 win over Notre Dame, in his brief time at Georgia career. But he’s recently become a topic for Georgia fans given what he had to overcome early in his career at Georgia.

The Miami native tore his ACL during Georgia’s 2018 spring practices. At that point, it seemed like you could write off Wilson doing much of anything for Georgia during that season.

But Wilson actually recovered from the ACL injury in a relatively quick time. Kirby Smart said Wilson had been cleared by the midpoint of the season. He ended up seeing his first action in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl loss to Texas.

In his first season at Central Florida, Wilson played in five games. He picked up 11 tackles and forced a fumble.

“I think Divaad when he first got here it was the third day of spring practice- and he didn’t know our defense, but he was going to help us,” Smart said. “I think he was cleared to go somewhere around the Florida week. The issue with Divaad is that he didn’t know our defense.”

Pickens led the team in receiving yards, catches and touchdowns over the past two seasons and a late-season return could provide a big boost to Georgia’s championship hopes.

“What we are concerned with right now is a great surgery and a great rehab,” Smart said. “He has a great career ahead of him, talking about George.”

Smart also added he reached out to a well-known Georgia name and former teammate in Hines Ward in discussing the importance of rehabbing at Georgia.

“I reached out to Hines Ward, I talked to him for a while, he is a receivers coach in the NFL and the first thing he said was that the number one thing people want to know is where you did your rehab at,” Smart said. “Well, when you do it at Georgia it is super credible and we do it the right way. We have more ways to help George get back to himself than anybody.”

Smart also mentioned that Pickens had spoken with Nick Chubb following the injury. Chubb suffered a horrific injury as a sophomore in 2015 but was able to recover and top 1,000 rushing yards in each of his final two seasons at Georgia.

Pickens suffered the injury on March 25. Should it take him eight months to recover and become medically cleared, that could possibly put him back on the field by the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech.

Pickens has not been the only Georgia wide receiver to pick up an injury this spring, as Jermaine Burton and Arian Smith have also picked up injuries, though neither are as significant as Pickens’ injury. Smart added on Saturday both are expected to be fine.

Related: ‘Bye’ George Pickens, social media react to news of ACL injury

Georgia entered spring practice with two of its top pass-catchers coming back from serious injury, as Dominick Blaylock tore his ACL in August of 2020, while Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is recovering from an ankle injury he picked up in the Florida game.

The Bulldogs will have to learn to live without Pickens and showcase some of the other wide receivers. Georgia will get a chance to do that with the remaining six practices of the spring, as well as the G-Day scrimmage set for April 17. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+

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