One of a number of freshmen from the 2019 recruiting class who has seen their star on the rise is wide receiver George Pickens. Against Missouri this past Saturday, quarterback Jake Fromm connected with Pickens for the Bulldogs only two touchdowns of the game. On the year, Pickens is second on the team with receptions, 29, and receiving yards with 389. He is tied with graduate transfer Lawrence Cager for receiving touchdowns with four on the year so far.
Pickens’ talent and athleticism are hard to miss and so is the emotion and passion that he plays the game of football with.
And if ever there was going to be an emotional game for Pickens, it will be this weekend’s SEC showdown in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday afternoon versus Auburn. Before committing to and signing with Georgia, Pickens had been committed to the Tigers. He had been committed to Auburn for over a year and a half, from July 21st, 2017 till February 6th, 2019, when he decommitted, flipped, and signed with UGA. Head coach Kirby Smart shared some of the back story behind Pickens recruitment and decision to come to Athens instead of Auburn.
“George (Pickens) is a kid that we recruited all the way throughout, and came over to a couple home games. We had him over in the summer. I mean he’s a kid that had been here several times. He played on a 7-on-7 team out of Georgia,” said Kirby during Monday’s press conference. “So he got to spend a lot of time with a lot of the kids we recruited. Didn’t really know until very late. I forget exactly when it was, but I thought in our home visit it was very obvious that he was thinking about making some change.”
“He saw the ability to throw the ball at our place, and he saw three guys leaving, you know,” said Kirby. “And once we had three guys leave our team, two left early in a tight end and a back, it cleared things up for him that he thought he was going to be able to have an impact and decided to come.“
As one can imagine, Tiger fans were not too happy, and they will probably remind George again of that on Saturday. For a young player like Pickens, it will be important to block out that noise and concentrate on the task at hand, but Kirby Smart that the Auburn game is no different than any other.
“They’re all big. I realize what you’re pointing at and saying with it being emotional, that he was committed to them for a long time. But that doesn’t take away from what happens when you step inside the lines,” said Kirby. “I mean when you step inside the lines, you have to go execute, you have to focus on the task at hand. You have to block out all the noise and the outside stuff, and you have to go play. That doesn’t change week to week.”
And Pickens will have his teammates to support him in that regard. Senior safety J.R. Reed stated in Monday’s player interviews that Pickens will be OK.
“We’ll most definitely have George calmed down and under reins during the game,” said Reed. “We’ll have it figured out before we get there Saturday. He’ll be okay.”