It was a shock to the College Football world when George Pickens decided to sign with the Georgia Football program. He was predicted by every major recruiting source to sign with his hometown Auburn Tigers.
He was committed to the Auburn Tigers for 566 days from late his sophomore year in high school well into the spring of his senior year. Pickens shocked the recruiting world late on signing day as he flipped his commitment from Auburn, and pledged to dawn the Red & Black.
Much to the despise of Auburn fans everywhere, Pickens left his home state to attend the University of Georgia. One would reasonably assume that Georgia losing it's top-5 receiving targets from last season had to have played a role.
Though, if you entertain Auburn fans, they'd lead you to believe the "Bag Man" made an appearance.
Nonetheless, it was a huge coup for the Georgia Bulldogs to land the five-star wideout from Hoover, Alabama. Pickens is the second-highest-rated WR to ever commit to Georgia behind only A.J. Green.
George Pickens isn't your average wide receiver, standing nearly 6'4" and weighing 190 pounds.
Like almost all true freshmen being thrown in the fire, Pickens has had his fair share of ups and downs. However, he has shown flashes and made enough spectacular plays to give us a glimpse at how great he can be, as he continues to develop.
George Pickens has been very consistent in a key area, blocking. His efforts downfield have helped spring several big running plays this season. This skill and determination are what have allowed Pickens to play early and often at such a young age. The Bulldogs are predicated on running the football and running it well, so if wide receivers don't show a willingness to block, it is hard for them to find the field under head coach Kirby Smart.
This video by Dynasty Tools gives us a sample of just how valuable George Pickens' blocking is to the ground game.
Though blocking is the skill that has allowed George Pickens to see the field early and often. He is far from just a blocking wide receiver. He uses his size and length to make contested catches in traffic. That length combined with great timing helps Pickens make spectacular catches and evidenced below.
George Pickens also has great hands and phenomenal body control. This allows him to make big catches on the sidelines while staying in bounds. These attributes also allow him to make big plays over the top of any defense.
Pickens has caught 29 passes for the Georgia Bulldogs this season, gaining 389 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He has an impressive yards per catch average of 13.4. He caught four passes for 78 yards in his debut against Murray State and followed that performance with five catches for 84 yards against Arkansas State.
George Pickens' first great game against an SEC opponent took place against the South Carolina Gamecocks. He caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 98 yards. Unfortunately, this effort was in defeat, but during a game in which the Georgia Bulldogs pass-catchers struggled to get separation against press-man coverage. The freshman Pickens was one of the few who was able to make plays.
George continued to play well last week against the Missouri Tigers. He caught another five passes for 67 yards. Most impressively he scored two touchdowns for the first time as a Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver.
Emotions will run high for George Pickens this Saturday as he takes on his hometown Auburn Tigers, the school he nearly chose to attend. The fact that Auburn features his good friend and High School quarterback Bo Nix as the starter will only intensify those emotions.
Pickens can channel those emotions into strong play, he will provide a huge spark and have another great game for the Georgia Bulldogs offense. Certainly, such a game would be just what the doctor ordered for UGA in a must-win game for the Dawgs to reach the SEC Championship game.
George Pickens is not a speed burner but he posses a rare combination of size, strength, hands, body control and blocking ability that will allow him to be great. As a young player, he will continue to improve. With the traits that Pickens posses, he has the opportunity to be the best wide receiver of the Kirby Smart era thus far and one of the best to ever set foot on campus in Athens.
Should Pickens continue his upward trend in development, he has the opportunity to be the Dawgs best wide receiver, since (dare I say it) NFL superstar A.J. Green.
The more that the Georgia Bulldogs open up the offensive game plan to feed Georgia Pickens, the more explosive the UGA offense will be. Following the development of Pickens will certainly be a fun ride for everyone involved, especially Dawgs fans.