On Wednesday, the Georgia Bulldogs announced that junior wide receiver George Pickens would undergo surgery for an ACL injury suffered in practice. As of now, the athletic department has said that there is no current timetable for Pickens’ return. A typical ACL surgery takes several months to recover from.
In the shortened 2020 season, Pickens led the Bulldogs in receiving touchdowns with six. He was also tied with fellow junior receiver Kearis Jackson for the lead in catches at 36 and sat one yard behind Jackson for the team lead in receiving yards.
What the George Pickens Injury Means for Georgia
The loss of Pickens would be monumental for Georgia. Near the end of the season, when quarterback JT Daniels took over, it was clear the two had a great connection. Daniels seemed to often look to Pickens as his bail-out receiver, knowing that Pickens had a good chance to come down with any ball in his vicinity.
Losing that kind of player has a major impact. However, the larger impact comes from what he does for his teammates. All too often, defenses had to make it a point to focus on Pickens because of his ability. This allowed other players to get open more often.
Not being able to have a guy drawing defenders off is going to be a major blow for the Bulldogs.
How To Fill The Hole
The injury also means that other players will have to step up to attempt to fill that hole. Obviously, you can not replace a player of Pickens level, but players can step up to try and reduce the loss. As mentioned before Kearis Jackson will be important for the Bulldogs in the passing game.
Also, look for sophomore Jermaine Burton to have a bigger impact. Burton had the third-most receiving yards on the team a year ago. This injury puts him in a position to move up the rankings this season.
The team will also be bringing back Dominick Blaylock who missed last season due to a knee injury in spring practice, very similar to what happened to Pickens this offseason. In his freshman season, Blaylock racked up 310 yards and five touchdowns on 18 receptions.
It is also very possible that the team looks to lean even more on the big bodies at tight end, specifically six-foot-seven sophomore Darnell Washington. Last season Washington only had seven catches for 166 yards. Do not be surprised to see the big man playing a big role this fall. Expect Washington to likely find pay dirt for the first time in his collegiate career.
Senior Demetris Robertson will look to have a presence with a lot of the younger guys. Having a veteran will be important for helping them develop this season. Robertson picked up 110 yards on 12 catches last season.
Georgia will also be looking to several younger players to step up for the first time in their collegiate careers. This will include players like sophomore Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, redshirt freshman Arian Smith, and true freshmen Adonai Mitchell and Jackson Meeks.
As a whole, this injury is really bad for the Bulldogs. Losing a player of Pickens’ caliber can drop a team a handful on spots in the final rankings. Georgia would likely be fighting for a playoff spot with Pickens in the lineup. Without him, the Bulldogs are probably somewhere in the Top 10. Georgia can still compete in the SEC, but it will be a much tougher challenge at the national level.
The most important thing for 2021 will be adapting to the situation and having younger players step up to have an impact on the game.