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College
George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall
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George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall

George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall

George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall

George Pickens caught a ball Saturday during the first UGA scrimmage.

It sure caught a lot of eyes. And clicks. And retweets.

Pickens certainly snared DawgNation's attention in the process. And to be clear, several headlines on this site in the process.

A tweet provided one of the first glimpses of what the 5-star receiver can do.

He's listed at 6 feet, 3 inches on the Georgia roster, but there seems to be a little more to him than that. That was made clear by what a 7-time state championship coach had to say about it.

Niblett ranks among the finest leaders of young men I've ever been around in high school football.

His Hoover Bucs (the one from MTV "Two-A-Days" fame) will annually rate as one of the top programs in the Southeast every year. At least.

It was funny how that tweet revved the hype train for Pickens during fall camp and then a couple more tweets certified the play was by no means an anomaly.

Niblett's set the table. Then there was another from the Hoover offensive coordinator.

Jason Kervin, who shared his thoughts on the play below, is the offensive coordinator at Hoover.

"There isn't a catch he could make that would amaze me anymore," Kervin said in that tweet.

The coaches at Hoover have a pretty high threshold for amazing, but then Pickens raised that bar.

Pickens was an Under Armour All-American. He starred for two seasons on Cam Newton's 7-on-7 teams. He finished as a 5-star recruit on the 247Sports Composite rating.

It placed him as the nation's No. 4 WR prospect for the 2019 class.The Georgia freshman was the first 5-star signee at receiver for the program since Marlon Brown in 2009.

Here is what he did over his last two seasons in big-boy Alabama high school football:

  • 2018 (All-state junior): 46 catches for 735 yards and five touchdowns. Pickens added two punt returns for touchdowns
  • 2019 (All-state senior):69 catches for 1,368 yards and 16 touchdowns. Pickens added a kickoff return touchdown

He finished out his high school career by snagging MVP honors in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game. That included two touchdown catches.

Kervin rates Pickens as the best he's ever seen in high school football at receiver.

Where George Pickens came from

His family just calls him Malik. That's his middle name. Some folks call him George, but those who really know will use Malik.

He is a product of a stout high school program. His oil was checked every day.If it was a very good Hoover team by their standards, then that means a preseason top 10 team in the top 10 national rankings.

Hoover will schedule IMG Academy every year. Niblett does so because is the best tune-up imaginable for winning another state title in Alabama's highest classification.

It works.

The Bucs won the state title in Alabama's highest classification during six of his 11 seasons. They have reached the state final in nine of his 11 years. The Hoover program (built by former Colquitt County coach Rush Propst) has reached the state championship in the state's largest class 16 times this century.

It has led to 11 state titles since 2000.

That's enough of an element to know Pickens comes from a culture of competing and working at the highest levels. Niblett, who played at Alabama, is a strength coach at his core.

His mission is to get the utmost out of his players each and every season. This is a coach that doesn't just toss around praises lightly.

The third source on what to expect from Pickens this fall comes from a man who currently plays defensive back in the Canadian Football League.

Chris Humes was a standout DB for Arkansas State. He now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"It was a great catch," Humes said of the one-handed snare. "He definitely can do that consistently. He works on little things like that all the time."

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George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall

Chris Humes on what to expect from George Pickens at UGA

Humes is seven years older than Pickens. What up-and-coming receiver with All-American potential wouldn't want to train with a college cornerback?

"Since we were kids we always used to play against each other," Humes said. "I was his big brother so I always used to rough him up. He kind of grasped the concept he had to be a Dawg."

When Humes was a high school corner, he'd send 12-year-old George out on routes.

"He was the little brother," Humes said. "Maybe 12 years old, but he was going to get pressed up. He had to see and learn what it was all about."

Who wins the 1-on-1 tilts now? They haven't settled that yet.

"I teach him all kind of types of different concepts to beat a DB. I will let him know this is how you beat me," Humes, now 25, said. "We will do a lot of release work but when the ball is in the air either he will go for it and I will pull off or I will go for it and he will pull off. We don't need to get tangled up or go to the ground. We've got bright futures ahead of us."

What will Pickens need to play fast this fall?

"Just embracing the playbook and learning the playbook and learning it fast," Humes said. "Which I don't think will be a problem coming from a great high school program like the one at Hoover."

"The rest, man, he's a competitor, man. He is a ball of energy. People are going to be aware of that around him. They are going to want to match this dude's intensity. He hates to lose a game. He hates to lose on a route and he hates to lose on any ball, be it a jump ball or a slant or anything."

Humes said knowing who he is going against and playing to their strengths and weaknesses comes naturally to Pickens. He feels it is his best trait.

"If you're going against a DB who likes to stare at the quarterback then he will play with his release and beat you," Humes said. "If he's playing against a DB who likes to talk and flare up, then he will take him out of his game verbally. He studies film. I don't know. He's like a generation ahead of his time. He's like a 35-year-old player when it comes to that."

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George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall

Rewinding to when George Pickens chose Georgia

Pickens chose to make his final National Signing Day decision away from his high school. He did it at a community center in Hoover.

When he walked into that event, he really didn't know what he was going to do yet.

RELATED: George Pickens explains his late flip to UGA

Pickens was committed to Auburn for 566 days before he flipped to the Bulldogs. That was a tough one for fans of the Auburn Tigers.

Nolan Smith was committed to UGA for 690 days before he signed. If DawgNation can imagine what it would have been like for Smith to flip on signing day, then that is how the Tigers felt that morning.

Several sources told DawgNation Pickens went to that ceremony not knowing where he was going to go. Tennessee was on the phone talking to one member of his family. Auburn and Georgia were on other lines with other members of Team Pickens.

"It was the day of it all and I was pretty much shocked," Humes said. "I was pretty much shocked like three minutes before the rest of the world and everybody else found out."

Their 11th-hour conversation went like this.

HUMES: "This is the day. So what are you going to do, man?"

PICKENS: "I like Georgia."

HUMES: "Just follow your heart. Because at the end of the day you are going to have to live with it. You will live there and play and go to school for three or four years. No matter where you go. You have to be comfortable with it."

He did. Humes said that Pickens was happy and at ease with his decision once he signed.

Projecting George Pickens in college football

Humes was in camp with the Oakland Raiders in 2017. He's still active in the CFL. He shared a piece of advice he feels will serve Pickens well at Georgia.

It came from one of his former coaches. Trooper Taylor was on the Auburn staff for a time before spending five seasons at Arkansas State. Taylor is now the WRs coach at Duke.

"Do what's right off the field," Humes said. "Trooper told me that if you do right, then right will follow you. That brings good karma. That means then you go into your study hall and do your academic thing the right way and be the best person you can be. If you do those things, the right things for your life will follow you."

Humes has matched and covered the likes of former No. 1 overall prospect Dorial Green-Beckham when he was at Mizzou. Auburn's Sammie Coates, a future third-round NFL draft pick, was another guy he covered in college.

Carlson Henderson, a third-round pick of the Broncos, was another tough draw.

That said, he didn't see a lot of dudes like Pickens in college football.

"It is very rare," Humes said of the skill set. "A lot of guys compare him to a Julio (Jones) because of his size and how physical he can be. Almost like a Keenan Allen with his juke moves and how flexible he is. He gets you going or leaning one way and then goes another. But then he is also almost like an A.J. Green with his game and the way he goes up and gets it in the air and how he tracks the ball."

"There's not a lot of guys like that. He's extremely rare and this guy hasn't even gone through a college strength and conditioning program yet. Just wait for that. When he puts on the weight he needs to get acclimated, it is going to be really special when he adds all of that to his game."


The post George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect this fall appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • NEW YORK (AP) - Just about every newcomer to the Atlanta Braves has made an immediate impact lately. Francisco Cervelli fit right in Saturday night. The newly signed catcher had three hits and three RBIs in his Atlanta debut, and the Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 for their seventh straight victory. 'He was excited about getting here - and it showed,' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Ronald Acu a Jr. hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and recent addition Billy Hamilton dashed home with another run on the play thanks to a mental lapse by Mets left fielder J.D. Davis. Freddie Freeman launched his career-high 35th home run in the ninth. Freeman, who began the day leading the majors in RBIs, increased his season total to 105. Along with Cervelli and Hamilton, substitute shortstop Adeiny Hechavarr a was picked up off the scrap heap (from the Mets) not long ago. That trio and three key relievers acquired at the July 31 trade deadline have given the Braves a huge boost over the past two nights and beyond. 'All the new guys were - golly!' Snitker said. Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson also went deep for the NL East leaders, each connecting on a solo shot in the third off starter Zack Wheeler. Atlanta improved to 10-5 this year against the Mets, who remained two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card. Rookie slugger Pete Alonso matched a Mets record with his 41st home run, a three-run shot that put New York ahead 5-4 in the fifth after trailing 4-0. But third baseman Todd Frazier was unable to snag Cervelli's hard one-hopper in the sixth, a two-base error that led to Cervelli scoring the tying run on Rafael Ortega's single. After recovering from yet another concussion, Cervelli played his first major league game since May 25. The veteran backstop stroked a two-run double on the second pitch he saw for a 2-0 lead in the second. 'I was playing like a little kid,' Cervelli said. 'That's all that matters, man. From now on, just enjoy every game, every opportunity, and do what I have to do.' He singled his next time up and added an RBI double to deep center in the ninth. 'Hasn't played in three months, comes out and gets three knocks. Just makes it look that easy,' Hamilton said. From his knees, Cervelli also threw out Amed Rosario trying to steal second in a tie game in the seventh. 'After he got that hit in the second inning I just said, 'Well, just get a new guy every single day,'' Freeman said, adding that the recent additions are energizing the entire clubhouse. 'It's been pretty amazing.' Cervelli, released Thursday by Pittsburgh, signed with the Braves earlier Saturday to help fill in with Brian McCann on the injured list. Josh Tomlin (2-1) tossed two scoreless innings for the win. Ortega sparked Atlanta's two-out rally in the eighth with a single against Brad Brach (4-4) that went off the glove of a leaping Jeff McNeil at second base. The speedy Hamilton followed with a pinch-hit single and scored from third when Davis held the ball after Acu a's single and then lobbed it back to the infield, drawing boos from the crowd of 38,300. 'This is definitely fun. I keep getting a chance to play and I keep having fun with it,' said Hamilton, who hit a go-ahead single in the 14th inning of Friday night's victory for his first hit with Atlanta. Davis called it a 'helpless' feeling.' 'That's my fault. I should be throwing into (Rosario at shortstop) right away instead of picking up the runner at first,' Davis said. Atlanta starter Max Fried, handed a 4-0 lead and looking for his 15th win, allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings. Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to 18 games for the Mets, the longest active streak in the majors. KID DYNAMITE Alonso had the souvenir ball in a plastic case after becoming the first rookie to tie his team's home run record since Hall of Famer and former Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner did it for the Pirates with 23 in 1946, according to STATS. Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltran (2006) also hit 41 home runs in a season for the Mets. 'It's surreal,' Alonso said. 'That moment was really special. I couldn't have dreamed it up any better.' The slugger also has 100 RBIs, making him the first Mets player to reach the plateau since David Wright had 103 in 2010. 'Really cool,' Alonso said. SPOTLESS Atlanta's bullpen has fired 24 consecutive scoreless innings. The relievers are 5-0 with three saves and a 0.34 ERA during the winning streak. TRAINER'S ROOM Braves: Dansby Swanson (bruised right foot) was scheduled to play shortstop in his third rehab game at Class A Rome. ... LF-3B Austin Riley (right knee sprain) was set to play left field for the first time on his rehab assignment at Rome. Mets: McNeil, the NL batting leader, was reinstated from the injured list after missing 10 days with a strained left hamstring. With the score tied, he delivered a pinch-hit double on the first pitch he saw leading off the seventh but was thrown out trying to advance to third on a grounder to shortstop. McNeil remained in the game and singled in the ninth. ... Mets reliever Edwin D az, who gave up Freeman's homer, exited with tightness in his back and neck area. He said he doesn't think it's serious. ... Backup catcher Tom s Nido was placed on the seven-day injured list with a concussion and the club selected the contract of veteran catcher Ren Rivera from Triple-A Syracuse. Reserve outfielder Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment. ... OF Brandon Nimmo (neck) had a day off on his rehab assignment at Syracuse. UP NEXT LHP Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.14 ERA) tries to pitch Atlanta to a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon. LHP Steven Matz (8-7, 4.18) goes for the Mets. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Feleipe Franks threw a costly interception just after the Gators stopped Miami on defense. The camera immediately cut to Steve Spurrier. The former Florida coach was less than impressed by what the Florida quarterback did on first down no less. Steve Spurrier watching Feleipe Franks play Quarterback pic.twitter.com/VsR8B6yKPx Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) August 25, 2019 The interception was Franks' second of the game. He also had a fumble in the redzone earlier in the game as well. Franks did score three touchdowns, including a go-ahead rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Gators the lead. But this has not been a great night for the Florida quarterback. Franks has also been seen chirping with fans on the sideline during the game. It has been an incredibly sloppy game from both Florida and Miami. The Florida defense has bailed out the Gators offense, as Florida has sacked Miami quarterback Jarren Williams 9 times. The Gators and Bulldogs meet on Nov. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. If the Franks plays like he did against the Hurricanes, Georgia should be celebrating a third-straight win over the Gators. The post LOOK: Steve Spurrier has priceless reaction to Feleipe Franks interception appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Florida played poorly in the first half of its season-opener against Miami. The Gators trailed 13-7, giving a touchdown just before halftime. Florida also fumbled the ball twice, including once in the red zone. Georgia fans loved watching the Gators struggle in the first half, as Florida is seen as the top threat to the Bulldogs in the SEC East. The post Georgia football fans laughing at Florida's poor first half appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ORLANDO, Fla. Florida has not yet received a ruling on the eligibility of former Georgia football outside linebacker Brenton Cox. Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin told DawgNation that Florida is still waiting for more information on the appeal that has been filed for Cox to have immediate eligibility. White Cox won't dress or play against Miami in the Gators' 7 p.m. Saturday opener against Miami, he has worked hard to impress his new teammates in Gainesvillefrom all indications. A recent social media post provided evidence of Cox's positive mindset. All these shots I'm takin, they must not know I'm Bulletproof #Themanforever pic.twitter.com/t7gfnJhI70 Brenton Cox Jr. (@Brenton_cox) August 12, 2019 Cox's transfer from Georgia was a whirlwind. The former 5-star recruit from Stockbridge, Ga., was signing autographs at UGA's Fan Day on Aug. 3, reportedly parted from the team on Aug. 4, announced his transfer on Aug. 5 and was signing autographs at Florida Fan Day on Aug. 10. RELATED: Brenton Cox enters transfer portal Georgia coach Kirby Smart seemed to take the Cox transfer in stride when asked about it on Aug. 10, Smart's first media availability after the transfer took place. ' Concerns? I don't know about that,' Smart said. 'Brenton chose to withdraw from the University of Georgia, going into the portal. He's now at another SEC institution so we wish him nothing but the best and we appreciate his contributions while he was here.' The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Cox had 20 tackles and a sack last season, appearing in 13 of the Bulldogs' 14 games. Cox had a career-high six tackles in the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas, making his only career start in place of injured All-SEC linebacker D'Andre Walker. It was a tough season for Cox, who struggled with containment responsibilities, most notably after Walker was injured in the SEC Championship Game before Alabama's comeback. Things grew more challenging for Cox in the spring, when he was arrested on April 2 for misdemeanor marijuana possession. RELATED: Brenton Cox speaks out after marijuana arrest Georgia coach Kirby Smart disciplined Cox and Robert Beal who was also arrested on misdemeanor possession in part by making them run steps during a scrimmage. RELATED: Details emerge on misdemeanor arrest of Brenton Cox The Bulldogs have not had any off-field incidents reported since. For Cox, it may prove to be as simple as needing a fresh start. Cox has impressed his new teammates in Florida's fall camp. 'Elusive guy, great off the ball,' tailback Lamical Perine told Florida's Rivals.com site, Gators Territory. 'He's just a guy we glad to have, and he came from Georgia, so I'm pretty sure they kind of salty about that. Hey, we'll take him. He's a great guy.' Receiver Trevon Grimes was even more impressed. 'He's phenomenal; he's good, he's fast, he's quick,' Grimes said. 'He actually has some move that I've never seen before a spin move, like reversal, crazy. 'He's just gonna help our O-line get better.' No doubt, that's the sort of performance Cox's high school resume has suggested. A 2018 Under Armour All-American, Cox was named to the 2017 All-State Class 5A First Team defense by the AJC and the Associated Press. Cox was an ESPN.com five-star prospect, #11 in the ESPN 300, #8 overall prospect in the Southeast, #5 ranked DE nationally, #3 overall prospect in Georgia. RELATED: Breaking down the 8 Georgia football offseason transfers The post Former Georgia football linebacker Brenton Cox won't dress for Florida-Miami game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • NEW YORK (AP) - Francisco Cervelli caught on with a playoff contender, just as he hoped. The first-place Atlanta Braves signed Cervelli to a one-year contract Saturday and immediately plugged the veteran catcher into the starting lineup against the New York Mets. After recovering from his latest concussion, it was his first game in the majors since May 25. 'The only way he's going to get to know these guys is to catch 'em,' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. About two hours before the game, Cervelli said he was still waiting for his catching equipment to arrive at Citi Field. But on the second pitch he saw in his first at-bat, he laced a two-run double into the left field corner for a 2-0 lead. He added a sharp single his next time up. Cervelli, who has a long history of concussions, was granted his release Thursday by the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates after telling them he wanted to hook on with a big league team that had playing time to offer and a chance to reach the postseason. He gives the NL East leaders a proven replacement for injured catcher Brian McCann, sidelined earlier in the week by a sprained left knee. 'It's amazing,' Cervelli said. 'My only mission here is win. I'm wired that way.' Atlanta will pay Cervelli $110,403, a prorated portion of the $555,000 major league minimum. That is offset against his $11.5 million salary in the final season of the $31 million, three-year contract with Pittsburgh that he was released from. The 33-year-old Cervelli joined the Braves at Citi Field and batted seventh against Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler. Snitker said Cervelli will split playing time with Tyler Flowers behind the plate and likely remain with the club when McCann returns because by then rosters will have expanded in September. 'He's got skills. He's a good little catcher,' Snitker said. 'While Mac's out, he's going to be nice little pairing with Tyler.' Cervelli dealt with multiple concussions this season and batted .193 with one home run and five RBIs in 34 games for the Pirates. He recently completed a minor league rehab assignment that began Aug. 11 at Double-A Altoona in the Pittsburgh organization. He played one game there and then caught six games at Triple-A Indianapolis. 'I'm not a little kid anymore, so I kind of know exactly what I need and how many games,' Cervelli said. 'I've been working so hard besides the game for a long time to get back at my best.' Cervelli acknowledged that two months ago, he was a little jittery about catching again after his most recent concussion in May. A report suggested he didn't plan to go back behind the plate, but Cervelli insisted he didn't say that - someone else did. After working out in the infield, he moved back to catcher in the minors. He said he was bored at other positions and threw away his infield glove. 'I'm not a baseball player. I'm a catcher,' he said. 'I've been doing it for 17 years and that's all I'm going to do. And, I like to be behind the plate. It sounds crazy, but I like to get hit and do my thing. So, I'm here now.' He said he quietly underwent a new therapy with a new doctor and is feeling good. 'I put everything I had,' said Cervelli, the Pirates' opening day catcher each of the past five years. Cervelli began the night a .269 career hitter with 36 home runs and 261 RBIs in 700 major league games. His .362 on-base percentage in 450 games with Pittsburgh was second among big league catchers during that span to San Francisco's Buster Posey (.368). To make roster room for Cervelli, the Braves optioned catcher Alex Jackson to Triple-A Gwinnett and transferred left-hander Grant Dayton to the 60-day injured list. Cervelli, from Venezuela, spent the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees and played in 42 games for the 2009 World Series champions. 'I feel like a lucky man,' he said. 'Just the fact that I went to Triple-A and played baseball. It doesn't matter what it is. I played there like a kid again, and now I feel more grateful just to get picked up by a team who is in first place and they like to win. That's the whole idea.' ___ AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports