Hoover big-play receiver George Pickens has maintained the same recruiting stance for nearly a year: He’s committed to Auburn but listening to other schools.
Nothing has changed, and Pickens plans to take his final three official visits in January to make sure he chooses wisely before signing Feb. 6, the traditional National Signing Day.
“Auburn is home-state feel,” Pickens said at the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Florida. “It’s like me at home, but I already know what to expect. Auburn is a good school, but I want to see everything. If other schools present the same feeling as the other schools I’ve been to, it’s probably going to be Auburn.”
So, what other schools are making a push for Pickens, a 6-foot-3 1/2, 200-pounder, consensus 4-star prospect and No. 36 national prospect by the 247Sports Composite rankings who is also rated is a 5-star player by Rivals?
Pickens said Alabama has essentially stopped contacting him, so the Crimson Tide appears out of contention, and he added Florida State is also no longer a major option.
Pickens burned two of his official visits before the holidays with trips to Auburn and LSU. He said he hasn’t scheduled any of his January official visits, but Georgia, Florida, Miami, Tennessee and Ohio State remain possibilities.
Miami and Ohio State are late arrivals in Pickens’ recruitment.
Pickens said he wants his family to be comfortable with his final decision, but stressed a school’s quarterback situation will be a major factor. “The quarterback is what I have to have to even consider the school,” Pickens said.
That’s good news for Auburn.
Pickens has developed a close relationship with Auburn quarterback signee and early enrollee Bo Nix, playing alongside him on a summer 7on7 team and travelling with him to postseason all-star games.
“I feel like George is going to come to Auburn because him and Bo have a very good connection,” Auburn receiver signee Jashawn Sheffield said. “They’re always talking, always hanging out.”
Incoming freshman Sam Howell’s flip from Florida State to North Carolina on Early Signing Day is the major he’s no longer considering Florida State, he said, and Justin Fields’ impending transfer from Georgia hurts the Bulldogs’ chances.
Auburn signed 16 players, including receivers Ja’Varrius Johnson of Hewitt-Trussville and Sheffield, during college football’s December signing period. He is the Tigers’ top-ranked signee or commit in the Class of 2019 and was the first 2019 prospect to commit to Auburn way back in July 2017.
Pickens said Auburn’s offense impressed him during last week’s 63-14 victory over Purdue in the Music City Bowl, when the Tigers’ set a bevy of offensive records in Gus Malzahn’s return as primary play-caller.
“It kind of reminded me when he had Cam when they were dropping 50, 60,” Pickens said. “It was kind of crazy for me to look at the game and think about old times. I was thinking, if he’s going to be calling plays … that just lets me know he’s going to be airing the ball out.”
Pickens finished 2018 with 69 catches for 1,368 yards and 16 TDs in 2018, helping Hoover advance to the Class 7A semifinals. In last month’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, he caught nine passes — all from Nix — for 155 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-20 loss. He was named Alabama’s MVP.