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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

  • Georgia basketball is going to have to grow up in a hurry if it has any chance of becoming an NCAA tournament team this season. Coach Tom Crean's young squad came apart on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday night, falling 91-59 in a battle of SEC Bulldogs. Crean's concerns about Mississippi State's size and rebounding prowess became a reality. The maroon-and-white clad Bulldogs entered the night as the SEC's top rebounding team. They proceeded to show why, posting a commanding 40-22 advantage on the glass over UGA. 48 of State's 91 points were scored in the paint. Georgia dropped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with the loss, while Coach Ben Howland's team improved to 11-6 and 2-3 in league games. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards got off to a rough start at the so-called 'Hump.' Edwards was held to 3 points in the first half and made only 1 of his first 9 shots. Edwards finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 marksmanship beyond the 3-point line. Georgia, coming off an 80-63 home win over Tennessee, kept things close throughout much of the first half in Starkville. Freshman Toumani Camera scored all 10 of his points in the opening half, including a dunk that made it 32-28. But Mississippi State closed the first half on a 10-3 run to take a 42-31 lead to intermission. Georgia couldn't get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the game. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, UGA's top interior threat, scored 8 of his 10 points and grabbed 3 of his 4 rebounds in the first half. Hammonds scored just one basket on 1-of-6 shooting and grabbed just one rebound in the 15 minutes he played in the second half. The home team went on a 17-3 run late in the game, stretching the lead out to 30 points with four minutes left. UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who suffered an ankle injury last Wednesday, started and played 21 minutes. Wheeler had 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting, and 1 assist. The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. at Kentucky on Tuesday. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Mississippi State blasts Georgia in battle of SEC Bulldogs, Anthony Edwards struggles appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has yet to call his first play, but it's safe to say the 53-year-old already knows he's walking into a better situation than a year ago. RELATED: Todd Monken a Statement hire' by Kirby Smart Monken's differences on the Cleveland Browns' staff with first-year coach Freddie Kitchens were well-documented from the onset. Many close to Kitchens have said Monken was not even the head coach's choice for the job. It's no wonder Monken was quoted as referring the Cleveland franchise a 'total mess.' It was an accurate description. Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry were a handful. The Myles Garrett helmet swing incidentreached epic proportion. Georgia football is anything but a total mess. Monken arrives in Athens knowing he was Kirby Smart's top choice. Smart hasn't announced it, but it's a good bet Monken will assume the playcalling duties. It's something Monken has said before is important to him. RELATED: Why Todd Monken is a proven OC, and the Smart choice The best-case scenario for Georgia and Monken next season is a national championship. At the very least, a fourth-straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. The Georgia defense is that good. Nine of 11 Sugar Bowl starters return. It was a unit that led the nation in scoring defense and run defense, and finished third in the country in total defense and 8h in pass efficiency defense. Smart will be looking for an offense that makes more explosive plays while maintaining a reliable run game. But the bottom line for Smart was and is offensive efficiency and consistency. If Monken's offense can score 24 points in each game next season, it's hard to project the Bulldogs losing a game. That said, Georgia has its share of challenges on offense. Chief among those hurdles are growing an inexperienced receiving corps, and developing and scheming for a new quarterback. Georgia rising sophomore George Pickens is the key to the receiving corps. He's coming off a Sugar Bowl MVP performance, making 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 26-14 win over Baylor. Pickens, however, was hit with two suspensions his freshman campaign. The first involved an unspecified violation of team rules. The second came by NCAA rule after his well-publicized tangle at Georgia Tech. RELATED: Pickens apologizes to team for costly SEC title game suspension Pickens' growth and development as a person and potential leader will factor into Monken's future game plans where skill position players are concerned. Georgia has other receiver options returning and promising incoming freshmen. But none appear to have the game-changing dynamic Pickens presents. Georgia is also green in the backfield. Zamir White enters spring drills battling Kenny McIntosh for first-team reps. Rising junior James Cook and incoming freshman Kendall Milton have breakout talent. To this point, none of the backs have shown the dynamic game-breaking ability departing back D'Andre Swift flashed his first two seasons. It doesn't mean they won't, but expectations should be kept in check, Swift was special. The ultimate challenge, however, is at quarterback. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is considered the favorite to win the job in spring drills. Newman is coming to Georgia to throw more, and the Bulldogs are excited to have a quarterback who can run and scramble effectively. The two sides will meet somewhere in the middle, with Newman gaining experience in an offense that can transition into the NFL. Georgia also has redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck in the quarterback room this spring. The final piece for Monken's success is the fit in the offensive meeting room, and the trust and chemistry he builds with Smart. Unlike Cleveland, Monken will be handed the keys, and he'll be surrounded by an all-star staff that includesJames Coley, Matt Luke and run game coordinator Dell McGee. Georgia football, unlike the NFL's Cleveland Browns, doesn't mess around. Georgia football offseason Kirby Smart lands Air Raid guru Todd Monken LSU DC Dave Aranda reveals UGA offensive game plan Mark Richt gives scout on FSU grad-transfer Tre Mckitty UGA provides status update on James Coley Numbers game: Comparing Jamie Newman to Jake Fromm Bulldogs' safety headed for Ole Miss RELATED: Cade Mays makes stunning Rocky Top Hop Projected starting Georgia lineman returning from injury PODCAST: Brandon Adams discusses Todd Monken addition The post New Georgia OC Todd Monken trades total mess' for championship quest appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Former Georgia football safety Otis Reese announced on Twitter that he's headed for Ole Miss after entering his name in the NCAA transfer portal two weeks ago. Reese, a 2018 signee, has three years of eligibility remaining. He would have to sit out a season unless granted an NCAA waiver. Reese a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Leesburg, Ga., saw action in all 14 games for the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs last season. Most all of Reese's opportunities were on special teams, however, as he finished with just three tackles. It has been a busy offseason of comings and goings by way of transfer for the Bulldogs. Georgia has scored big additions with Wake Forest QB graduate transfer Jamie Newman and Florida State TE grad transfer Tre' Mckitty. Cade Mays has been the biggest departure, shunning a starting spot with the Bulldogs' championship contender to return to his hometown of Knoxville where his father player. RELATED: Cade Mays makes stunning Rocky Top Hop Reese's situation is clearly about playing time and opportunity. Georgia's elite defense was stacked in the secondary last season with Thorpe Award finalist J.R. Reed at one safety position, and rising star Richard LeCounte at the other. Freshman safety Lewis Cine, like Reese a top 100 prospect in high school, won the starting job for the Sugar Bowl when Reed pulled out of bowl preparation with a foot injury. WATCH: Lewis Cine knows his time is coming, putting in the hard work Cine had six tackles in the 26-14 win over Baylor and appeared to be the perfect partner to the playmaking LeCounte. Christopher Smith was also competing for reps at safety during bowl prep New Orleans. Rising sophomore Tyrique Stevenson figures to fit into the mix moving forward. Reese entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal after LeCounte made it public that he planned on returning to the Bulldogs. Reese was ranked the No. 87 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite coming out of Lee County High School. He chose UGA over Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Auburn, among others, per his recruiting profile. Georgia is expected to start offseason conditioning next week with spring drills likely to begin after UGA's spring break. The Bulldogs open next season playing Virginia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday Sept. 7. Even in my darkest times, I have always believed, the light would shine & it's TIME!!! @OleMissFB , @Lane_Kiffin , @CoachCPartridge COMMITTED pic.twitter.com/NkFdvkKxPo O Dog.. (@otisreese13) January 18, 2020 The post Former Georgia football safety Otis Reese announces he's headed for Ole Miss appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia coach Tom Crean always talks to his team about 'taking what the game gives you,' but on Saturday night at Mississippi State, UGA might need a different approach. Indeed, Crean's young and undersized team will have to take even when the game isn't giving them any breaks or advantages. Coach Ben Howland's maroon-clad Bulldogs lead the SEC in rebounding margin, the very area Crean's vertically challenged canines are most often challenged to measure up. 'I mean, every game we come in here talking about how important the rebounding is and now we're playing the league leader,' said Georgia coach Tom Crean, who has just two players 6-foot-9 or taller. 'That part of it is tough.' Mississippi State features two starters who are even taller, center Abdul Ado (6-11, 255) and power forward Reggie Perry (6-10, 250). The teams tip off at 8:30 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) at the so-called 'Hump.' Officially known as Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State's arena which some say resembles a cake from the outside has a smaller, intimate setting similar to Stegeman Coliseum with a capacity of 10,575. Georgia brings an 11-5 overall mark and 1-2 SEC record into the action. Mississippi State is 10-6 and 1-3 in league play. UGA is looking for what would be its first consecutive league wins under Crean, who is now in his second season. Georgia is also looking to play its way into NCAA tournament contention, and it will likely take a .500 record in league play or better for that to happen. It's Crean's first trip to Starkville, and he may be forced to make it without the playing services of Sahvir Wheeler, who fellow freshman Anthony Edwards refers to as 'the heart of the team.' Wheeler suffered an ankle injury in the second half of Georgia's resounding 80-63 blowout win over Tennessee. Crean made it clear on Friday that Wheeler is questionable, having just managed to walk through the Thursday workout. 'You just have to deal with it, and if he can't it is what it is,' Crean said. 'You just go. Right? That's why you try to develop and try to get multi-dimensional versatile guys. Obviously he's a huge factor.' If Wheeler is out, Georgia will rely more heavily on senior graduate transfer Donnell Gresham along with Edwards at the point. Edwards, named a second-team, mid-season All-American by the Sporting News earlier this week, is averaging 19.1 points per game this season, second in the SEC. Georgia, with its size deficiency, will also need another signature performance from 6-9, 245-pound junior Rayshaun Hammonds. Hammonds is averaging 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and he's coming off a 21-point, 5-rebound in the win over the Vols. Mississippi State represents UGA's fifth-straight game against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last season. The Bulldogs are 2-2 in the past four, winning on the road against then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 and hammering Tennessee in Athens on Wednesday night. The losses were to No. 13 Kentucky (78-69) and then-No. 5 Auburn (82-60). Last year's home loss to Mississippi State featured one of the most bizarre endings in Stegeman Coliseum history. WATCH: Stuffed bulldog triggers decisive technical foul in UGA home loss A small stuffed bulldog toy was thrown on the court in the final moments, resulting in a technical foul that helps swing the game State's way, 68-67. Georgia had rallied from 17 down to tie the game at 67-67. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Georgia basketball looks to get over the hump at Mississippi State appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,112 (Jan. 17, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about Georgia's new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Georgia football podcast: What the Todd Monken hire means for UGA Beginning of the show: News of Todd Monken's hiring broke right as DawgNation Daily began Friday. I'll discuss my thoughts on Monken on the show including how his recent stops as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Bucs and as a head coach at Southern Miss could influence his play calling at UGA. 10-minute mark: DawgNation's Connor Riley joins the show to react in the moment, and I take comments from DawgNation Daily listeners and viewers. 20-minute mark: DawgNation's recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show to react to Monken's hiring and preview a major UGA recruiting weekend including a visit by five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff. 45-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda leaving the Tigers to become Baylor head coach, more fallout from Odell Beckham Jr.'s dreadful post-national championship celebration and Tennessee hyping former UGA offensive lineman Cade Mays' presence on campus. 50-minute mark: I preview a busy weekend for UGA athletics beyond football. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. The post Georgia football podcast: What the Todd Monken hire means for UGA appeared first on DawgNation.