The Georgia Bulldogs have one of the top teams in the country heading into the 2020 season. Thanks to four straight stellar recruiting classes, the Bulldogs are brimming with talent and elite players at a number of positions.
And while Georgia's defense has been hailed, in terms of excitement and hype for the upcoming season, there is one Bulldog player on the offensive side of the ball that stands out from the rest. That is sophomore wide receiver George Pickens.
Pickens shined at times as a freshman, most prominently in the Sugar Bowl where his 12 catches and 175 receiving yards earned him MVP honors. He has higher expectations heading into his second year in Athens, where he'll have the possibility of becoming only Georgia's second 1,000-yard receiver in program history.
For the first time since the days of AJ Green, there's a real excitement around a Georgia wide receiver. ESPN recognizes and adds to that, as it named Picken the most exciting player on Georgia's 2020 team.
"The guy defensive coordinators already fear is sophomore receiver Pickens," ESPN's AlexScarborough wrote. "If he can steer clear of trouble, he's a big-play threat from anywhere on the field."
Pickens had a number of highlight and big-time catches in his first season at Georgia, where he finished the year with 47 catches for 727 yards and 8 touchdowns. He had a touchdown catch in each of his final four games in 2019, even as the Georgia offense around him struggled.
With new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Pickens figures to be a player that could really benefit from his coaching. Monken helped turned former Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon into the best receiver in the sport and a top-5 pick in the NFL draft. Monken also played a big role in the development of Tampa Bay wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at the NFL level.
Monken and Pickens will also play a big role in reshaping Georgia's passing game. The Bulldogs ranked 72nd in passing offense last season and was a big reason the offense floundered during the final month of the season. Quarterback Jake Fromm and former offensive coordinator James Coley are out, with Monken and a new quarterback in.
Georgia brought in two transfer quarterbacks this offseason in Jamie Newman of Wake Forest and JT Daniels of USC. Newman enrolled at Georgia in January and is immediately eligible as a graduate transfer. Daniels meanwhile announced his transfer decision last month and it is not yet known if he will be eligible for the upcoming season.
Whoever ends up starting will benefit greatly from having Pickens, who demonstrated last season that he's fully capable of catching just about anything thrown his way.
GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 10, 2019
The one concern that exists with Pickens is that he was suspended twice last season. He missed the first half of the Georgia Tech game due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Then in the second half of the same game, he was ejected for fighting, which meant he would miss the first half of the SEC championship game against LSU.
Pickens told reporters after the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor that he still has some growing to do.
"We're going to help George, we're going to help him grow up," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "We're going to help him make better decisions so he can help our team."
Pickens is back going through voluntary workouts with the Georgia team in preparation for the upcoming season. The Bulldogs are still set to open the 2020 season against Virginia on Sept. 7 in Atlanta.
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