Hoover (Ala.) High School has produced plenty of top college football prospects over the years and heck, one just went in the first round of the NFL Draft in cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The Bucs producing talent is nothing new, but the name George Pickens is for most.
He did not start on Hoover's Class 7A state championship team in 2016 and spent some time on junior varsity, but most of the buzz surrounding the defending champions this spring has begun with the 6-foot-5, 200-pound sophomore wide receiver.
Some on staff has even suggested he may be the top wide receiver to come through the program when all is said and done, lofty discussion considering the program has sent a half-dozen wide receivers to FBS programs in the last decade or so and has one of the state's best rising seniors on the current roster in Shedrick Jackson. Former Florida and NFL standout Chad Jackson would top most historians' list of Hoover wide receivers while current Mississippi State wide receiver Justin Johnson, former Arkansas wideout Maudrecus Humphrey and several others would be in the mix somewhere thereafter.
What helps Pickens against most is his towering frame and youth. He flashed some of what many will look to see in 2017 during Hoover's spring game on May 13 (video above) and the day ended with two of the college football programs in attendance -- Mississippi State and UAB -- offering on the spot.
"I feel great, it's really a great opportunity for me," Pickens said of the attention. "Last year I was a backup, but now I will get to explore my options."
Arkansas State and Jacksonville State have also jumped in the mix with a scholarship offer to the 2019 prospect while many in the SEC keep an eye on him. Alabama and Auburn had assistant coaches at the event earlier this month, too.
"You will see a physical receiver, a big, physical receiver on tape," Pickens said. "Also quick, I pride myself on being quick and fast instead of being so big all the time.
"You will also see great hands and great routes."
Scout recognizes his frame, length and catch radius as major strengths along with strong hands and a long stride that helps him gain ground in a hurry. As he said, Pickens has no problem playing physically, even pancaking a linebacker early in the game against Montgomery (Ala.) Park Crossing with so many eyes on he and the Bucs. As he continues to polish up his route-running and fill out his frame with added strength, he has the chance to be one of the best in the state regardless of position.
On the recruiting front, expect many other programs to track him going forward. But one holds the early advantage for his services.
The LSU Tigers are the program Pickens said he grew up following closest.