Once it became clear they weren’t landing Jadon Haselwood, the Miami Hurricanes went out looking for another wide receiver option in the Class of 2019. On the third and final day of the early signing period last month, it took Miami to George Pickens.
The four-star wide receiver from Hoover in Alabama has been committed to the Auburn Tigers since 2017, but opted not to sign with the in-state school last month. He would use the first few weeks of 2019 to make a final decision, and the Hurricanes hoped they could make a last-ditch effort to sway him.
“It wasn’t a school that I was thinking about because I was thinking about my boy Jadon Haselwood,” said Pickens, who played on a 7-on-7 team with the Oklahoma Sooners signee, “so I didn’t really know if they was going to offer me, but when they offered me it was really a shocker.”
Plenty has changed in Coral Gables since former wide receivers coach Ron Dugans extended the offer. Coach Mark Richt abruptly retired, and the Hurricanes moved quickly to hire coach Manny Diaz as Richt’s replacement. On Wednesday, Diaz confirmed he let Miami’s entire offensive staff go, including Dugans.
This, of course, complicates things with regards to the Hurricanes’ recruitment of Pickens, but the elite wide receiver said Thursday at the Under Armour All-America Game he has heard from the coaching staff since Richt’s retirement.
“It’s kind of the same,” Pickens said at Camping World Stadium after his Team Flash lost to Team Ballaholics, 28-27. “They texted me the other day, so the old staff liked me and the new staff liked me. So it’s OK.”
Pickens was one of the more impressive prospects at Camping World Stadium. The No. 36 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Pickens led Flash with four catches for 55 yards in the All-America Game, playing on the same team as four-star Neptune Beach Fletcher wide receiver Jeremiah Payton, who is the top-ranked player in the Hurricanes’ class.
While Pickens doesn’t have any more official visits lined up yet for the new year, his performance in Central Florida was a reminder of why teams like the Florida State Seminoles, Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Michigan Wolverines and Oregon Ducks have all made efforts to flip the All-American receiver.
Miami, just from extending an offer, became a school which immediately stands out for Pickens and could be in the mix to land one of his last three official visits.
“I’m pretty sure like everybody in this whole stadium would like to play in Florida, so it’s kind of good,” Pickens said. “It’s kind of one of those teams like it’s really a dream school to be in that type of atmosphere.”
Still, offensive recruiting will be in a bit of a holding pattern until Diaz hires an offensive coordinator, which he plans to do before the recruiting dead period ends Thursday. Until then, prospective offensive recruits don’t know what to expect.
“The old staff, it was a one-two punch: throw, run,” Pickens said. “This staff I don’t really know much about.”