By Rubin E. Grant
By the time the 2018 season ends, Hoover senior George Pickens could be the No. 1 receiving recruit in the nation.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound Pickens already has garnered a five-star rating from Rivals.com.
“Pickens’ size, speed, play-making ability and relentless competitiveness remind me of the best wide receivers I’ve seen since I’ve been doing this job,” Southast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack told Rivals. “By the time the season is played and we get to the All-American games, there is going to be quite the debate for the No. 1 wide receiver spot and Pickens will be in the discussion.”
Pickens, an Auburn commit, displayed his skills during four days of competition at The Opening recruiting showcase in Frisco, Texas, earlier this summer. It included a spectacular leaping one-handed catch, a la Odell Beckham of the NFL’s New York Giants.
In his first varsity season, in 2017, Pickens caught 46 passes for 735 yards and five touchdowns while playing alongside receiver Shedrick Jackson, who’s now at Auburn. Pickens also returned two punts for touchdowns.
Hoover coach Josh Niblett raves about Pickens’ play-making ability and work ethic.
“He’s a dynamic player who can do things that other guys can’t do,” Niblett said. “He is one of those guys who is constantly trying to master his trade and what he’s really good at. He has confidence about what he’s doing and knows he can make a play when the ball is in the air.
“He gives us a chance to stretch the field vertically and horizontally.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pickens chose Auburn, despite offers from several SEC schools, including Alabama and Georgia.
His family has known Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey for several years. Malzahn coached Pickens’ brother, Chris Humes, at Arkansas State, and Lindsey coached Humes at Spain Park.
Humes starred as a defensive back at Spain Park, graduated in 2012 and played at Arkansas State before a short stint in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. He now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.
If that wasn’t enough of an Auburn connection, during the summer, Pickens played on the same 7-on-7 team as Auburn quarterback commit Bo Nix. Nix is a senior at Pinson Valley, where his dad, former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, is the coach.
Pickens and Hoover open the 2018 season against defending Class 6A champion Pinson Valley and Nix on Aug. 25 in a made-for-TV doubleheader to be broadcast by ESPN.