Even if Monken can’t get a fully-healthy Pickens, getting a portion of the player that posted 14 touchdowns and averaged almost 15 yards per catch in his first two seasons would be a much-needed boost for the Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl on Friday night. It would bring a new but familiar dimension to Georgia’s offense against a stout Michigan defense.
“Everyone has seen George play and knows he’s capable of doing,” wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “Him being able to come back from that injury has been tremendous for not only himself, but for the team, as well. Him being out there brings a different atmosphere to the game.”
It’s certainly a quick turnaround for an ACL tear, but a 2021 return was always in the mix for Pickens. Within 48 hours of the tear in late March, Smart said that he thought there was a chance he’d be able to play for the Bulldogs this season. From that day, Pickens has been pushing his way back into playing shape.
“George has done a fantastic job of working to get back to give himself a chance to play at the back end of this season,” Monken said. “When I think back to the spring when he injured his knee and I thought, wow, what a disappointment for him and his development and for us. But he has done a fantastic job of trying to get back.”
Pickens’ explosiveness is a resource the Bulldogs would love to draw from again. The issue is there may not be as much as they’d wish. There could be only a few opportunities for him at Hard Rock Stadium, but for Pickens to show his impact, he may not need much more than that.