DE Zacch Pickens of TL Hanna figured the end of his final spring practice was the right time to announce where he will play his college football. So, following the Yellow Jackets’ spring game Friday night, Pickens brought his family, friends, teammates and media together, pulled a USC cap out of a bag and pledged his allegiance to the Gamecocks for the next three or four years.
“I feel wonderful about everything. Feels like a relief really,” Pickens said Saturday afternoon adding that the recruiting process was starting to take its toll on him. “Phone calls every day. Gone every weekend. I mean, it was a good feeling but it was time to stop really because I’ve been going on these trips my whole life and I guess I got a little tired of it.”
One thing Pickens did not grow tired of was the one-on-one recruitment by Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp, the only head coach from all his offers to give him that kind of personal treatment.
“That means a lot and that says a lot,” Pickens said. “He took time out of his busy schedule to talk to me and I respect that. It was a big point (in his decision). I’m not going to lie to you. Me and Muschamp’s relationship is like really, really good. Muschamp was always encouraging me and telling me to keep my head on straight, don’t worry about too much and just calm down, relax. It’s all going to come to you. He was really just coaching me up, just being there for me.”
Pickens is an excellent pass rusher as a defensive end according to his coach. He can also play inside techniques and stuff the run. He said Muschamp and defensive line coach Lance Thompson plan to use him in a variety of ways.
“”They said they like my size and they could probably use me on the whole front D-line because I’m fast and I’m a little heavy but I’m not too heavy if you know what I’m saying.”
Of course, Gamecock fans are going to compare Pickens to the most decorated defensive player in Gamecock history, Jadeveon Clowney. He welcomes those comparisons.
“To be honest, I would love to be compared to Clowney,” he said. “I actually watch all his tapes and try to do similar stuff that he did. I would love to be compared with Clowney because Clowney’s a freak.”
Pickens made several visits to USC during the recruiting process, his most recent being for the spring game. And he said those visits gave him the feeling he had found the right place.
“It was just somewhere I felt like I was home,” Pickens said. “I got to meet the players and actually started like a good friendship with all of them. That’s what I like. That’s what I’m really looking for somewhere, I feel like I’m really at home.”
Early in his football career it appeared Pickens would not be following the footsteps of Clowney but rather those of Da’Quan Bowers, Vic Beasley and Xavier Thomas at Clemson. The Tigers, he said, did have the early advantage as his recruiting began to unfold and there was a point when in his mind he thought he would become a Tiger.
“Yes sir, it was,” he said. “They were always showing me around when I was in the eighth grade. They recruited me when I was in the eighth grade and I guess I started to fall in love with them. I guess, actually, just growing up and seeing how many people just going there, and then just kind of just fade away.”
Pickens said Clemson continued to recruit him hard to the end. In fact, recruiter Brent Venables was at his spring game Friday. But he said the Gamecocks have nothing to worry about when it comes to Clemson, or anyone else, trying to pry him out of his commitment.
‘I’m going to Carolina,” he said. “There’s no switching.”
Pickens said he will sign in December and he hopes to graduate early but that is still something that’s unresolved at this point.