Watch: George Pickens and John FitzPatrick Interviews

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Watch: George Pickens and John FitzPatrick Interviews

On what it is like playing and practicing under Todd Monken and what changed for him, as a receiver…he biggest shift has been from last season…“The biggest thing that has changed for me as a receiver under Coach Monken was just the split adjust, me being an outside edge or me being an inside edge. I feel like that helped me a lot, knowing he is an NFL guy…He and Coach [Cortez] Hankton are just two guys who can really help me improve.” 

On how he dealt with the pressure coming in as a freshman/how his teammates D’Wan Mathis and Jermaine Burton have dealt with the expectations…” Coming in from Alabama as a freshman and the expectations that people had for me— I was really just working hard every day. I knew that was the standard at the school I chose, and I feel like Jermaine Burton knows the standard is the same thing, and so does D’Wan [Mathis]. All three of us are just going to work hard, and I think that’s what we’re all doing.”

On how he plans to balance excitement on the field without taking it too far and getting flagged on the play…“It’s really just about staying wholesome. I make so many big plays I see on the internet or things like that, and I see them getting riled up, but knowing me, I just have to stay calm and play as a team. This year, I’m mostly just focused on the team, because I see now that the team can win you a National Championship. The team can win you an SEC Championship. If your team is grounded, then you’re going to win.” 

On the importance of his Sugar Bowl performance after the Georgia Tech game earlier in the season…“It was really big. Me coming out into that game, I just wanted to show everybody that I don’t have to do other things just to be great or just to make plays.”

On his personal growth during the offseason…“Specifically, from the Sugar Bowl game, from then on, I have just been focusing on the team. That’s kind of how I got good in the Sugar Bowl game and how I got the numbers that I had— because I was just focused on the team. Now that’s what I’m really working on. I felt like I was [team-focused] before, but it wasn’t as important to me as it was to other people, so now it’s way more important to me.”

On the difference in being a tight end in Coach Monken’s system versus prior offensive coordinators…“I don’t want to compare Coach Monken, Coach [James] Coley’s and Coach [Jim] Chaney’s, but Coach Monken, along with the other two previous [Offensive Coordinator]’s, it’s just competitive. I am excited to play for him. He is a great OC, and it’s going to be a fun year with him.”

On how he as a tight end will be involved during a game compared to the last couple of years…
“I would say that we are prepared for whatever Coach Monken calls. He was hired to call the plays, and if he calls a pass rush, we’re going to go make a play. If he calls he calls the run blocks for us—we’re going to go make those blocks. At the end of the day, we just want to win games and take it game by game.”  

On raising the production of the offense…
“I would say it starts at practice. At practice, working on the little things in between periods—jogging to the next period, finishing drills and what not—doing these little things that are going to translate onto the field so that we can play at our highest level.”

On watching D’Wan Mathis work his way back…

“D’wan is a hard worker and a competitor, I love that about him. He comes to practice every day ready to work like all of the other quarterbacks. I’m excited to have a good year with him.”

On his impression of Darnell Washington…
“Darnell [Washington] is a great guy, I love playing with him. Just like any other tight end, Coach Smart is bringing in competitors every year. He’s working with Brett [Seither], [Ryland] Goede, Kolby [Wyatt], and Tre’ [McKitty]. We’re all working hard, and it’s a fun group.”
 
On his impression of Tre’ McKitty…

“He’s a great competitor, he’s strong and fast. You can tell he’s had previous experience, he handles his own well and he can move people. All great attributes to be a tight end here.”

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.