The name of the football scholarship that Georgia wide receiver George Pickens is on is named the A.J. Green Family Football Scholarship. It seems pretty fitting given Pickens is likely the most talented wide receiver the Georgia football program has seen since Green was making spectacular catches for the Bulldogs.
Pickens enters this coming season as the most exciting player on Georgia’s offense, given the unknowns at both the quarterback and running back position. The last time a wide receiver was the most exciting or best part of the Georgia offense was back in 2010, when Green filled that role for the Bulldogs.
Green and Pickens were both 5-star wide receivers during the recruiting process. In the time between when Georgia landed Green as a part of the 2008 signing class and the Bulldogs flipped Pickens on National Signing Day in 2019, the Bulldogs signed only one 5-star wide receiver.
The two both had impressive freshman seasons, as Green finished with 963 yards and eight touchdowns. Pickens didn’t quite match his yardage totals, but he still led Georgia with 727 yards, 49 catches and eight touchdowns.
Pickens celebrates his birthday today. He had quite the freshman season, as it was filled with highlight catches and incredible moments, such as his 12-catch, 175-yard performance against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
But there were also those freshman moments, mistakes that young people tend to make. He was suspended for the opening half of the Georgia Tech game for an unspecified violation of team rules. Then in the second half of that game, he earned a suspension for the opening two quarters of the SEC championship game after slamming a Georgia Tech defender into a wall. Sandwiched in between those moments was Pickens getting wide open and hauling in a touchdown catch
It’s reasons like that why the likes of Kirby Smart, Jake Fromm and others on the Georgia team talk about why Pickens is still growing.
Pickens himself said as much after the Sugar Bowl performance.
“I’ve still got growing to do,” Pickens said. “But I can kind of tell myself that I’m improving every day.”
That should be a scary thought for opposing defensive backs, coordinators and teams.
When speaking at the NFL combine, Fromm made it clear Pickens is just scratching the surface on his potential. He praised Pickens’ love of the game of football, and why that’s a driving force in him improving.
Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas made it a point to signify Pickens as the one player on Georgia’s team that everyone is going to be talking about this time next season.
“He’s just very talented. His first year in, adjusting to the playbook is pretty difficult sometimes,” Thomas said. “You can see him in practice sometimes he’s catching the ball with one hand sometimes and the coach is yelling at him to catch it with two hands.
“He just does freaky stuff and he’s going to be a great player.”
Even by the end of his freshman season, opposing foes had already taken notice of Pickens’ potential and talent. In the SEC championship game against LSU, then defensive coordinator Dave Aranda told DawgNation’s Mike Griffith that the Tigers were saving special defensive packages for Pickens in the second half.
“He’s probably up with the best that I’ve ever guarded,” LSU cornerback Derek Stingley told DawgNation prior to the national championship game.
Of course, Pickens has to make sure he’s on the field for entire games going forward. Whether he wants to be or not, Pickens is going to become a key part and face of the Georgia program. And for him to reach his ceiling, and possibly even shatter it, he has to make sure he’s there for the team when it needs him most.
After the suspension for the LSU game was confirmed, Pickens did apologize to the entire team for his actions. Fromm saw that as a significant step.
“You can definitely see a step for him growing up and trying to realize that his actions affect more than just him, they affected the entire team,” Fromm said.
In the two halves Pickens played after that LSU suspension, he caught 16 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Pickens can be the best player on Georgia’s offense. He can become Georgia’s second 1,000-yard receiver, as former Georgia great Terrence Edwards thinks he can be. Playing in Todd Monken’s system, which got highly productive seasons out of Justin Blackmon and Mike Evans could really get the best out of Pickens’ skillset.
It’s not even ridiculous at this point to suggest Pickens could become the next A.J. Green. He’s since gone on to become an All-Pro and one of the best wide receivers of the past decade. Pickens, with his body control, leaping ability and hands, has that same kind of special talent.
George Pickens @geo_Thagoat!!!
What a Catch!!!!
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) October 12, 2019
It’s all up to Pickens if he wants to become that. And if he does, a lot more defensive coordinators are going to have to come up with special and unique packages to try and hope to contain him.
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