Each day on the practice field resembles a “Five-Star Challenge” showcase event for Georgia. That’s at least how junior safety Richard LeCounte sees it as a byproduct of the program’s consecutive top-rated prospect hauls.
A barrage of highly-regarded athletes fly around with a competitive spirit each afternoon. One of those five-stars works on the far side of the offensive field. In his No. 83 practice jersey, freshman wide receiver George Pickens’ display likens to that of a Bulldogs’ star.
“George plays real fast. He’s got real big, strong hands,” LeCounte said during his first availability of the season Thursday. “He reminds you a lot of A.J. Green with his skill set and being able to adjust to the ball in the air. He’s got a lot to learn, but you always see flashes. I’m really excited.”
Pickens has shown sharp receiving skills, a quick vertical while jumping for high passes and crisp route running. He’s a freshman who has yet to strap on the gameday jersey, so a long path remains until that comparison reaches a final verdict. But remember, Green recorded 2,619 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns without playing three full seasons with the program. He’s also emerged into the NFL’s elite class entering his ninth season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
So, for a young Pickens to be connected with a prestigious name has quite a touch of significance. They’re similar in build, too, as Green is filled out with a 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame. Pickens is listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds.
Georgia is getting an introductory glimpse at Pickens as it’s only the sixth preseason practice. He signed with the program in February after being a long-time Auburn pledge, and wasn’t a midyear enrollee.
“George is a wonderful kind of player. I’m not even lying. If you talk about this, it’s because of him,” cornerback Eric Stokes said, pointing to a roughed-up lower leg. “He’s one heck of a wide receiver we’ve got. He’s a good talent at the top of his routes, so I’m falling in love with him each day.”
Pickens is a piece in the new-look wide receivers’ room for Georgia. He’s one of three newcomers, joining freshman Dominick Blaylock and Miami transfer Lawrence Cager. They’re each handed a new playbook with some elaborate schemes and technicalities. Georgia chooses not to treat its new additions at an elementary level.
Instead, the focus is testing them to see how much information can be retained. Then, the coaching staff refines it in order to mold the offense to each player’s strengths.
“Those kids have been thrown in the fire a little bit this early in this camp,” Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley said. “We want to see what they know, what they can pick up, and what they can do.”
So, as the season nears, will Pickens be one of those young athletes seeing meaningful action?
“I hope so, but that’s on his side of the ball,” LeCounte said. “From what I see, he’s like all of the other core guys who are making plays. I see that in George a lot.”