By: Logan Newman, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 26, 2018
Hoover High School (Ala.) football players Will Reichard and George Pickens are awfully close for a pair committed to rival programs.
Come 2019, Reichard will be attending Alabama. Pickens will be headed to Auburn.
“No bad blood or anything, (we’re) just trying to both fulfill our dreams,” Reichard said.
In the meantime, the two will be headed to the Under Armour All-America game together. They received their jerseys on Friday.
“It means a lot to me. I grew up watching this game and I always wanted to play in it so it definitely means a lot to be selected in it,” Reichard said.
Pickens said it’s “a dream come true” and remembers seeing NFL players such as Landon Collins and Jameis Winston take center stage at the game.
The two close friends get to go there together.
Reichard and Pickens met in eighth grade. The two played in Little League together and continue to hang out outside of school and go to each other’s houses.
“We really have bonded over my junior year, last year, plus this year,” Pickens said.
It helps that their positions align closely. Reichard is the kicker and punter and Pickens returns punts, in addition to his wide receiver duties. They practice punts and returns together.
“He’s real laid back,” Pickens said. “He likes to have a lot of swag too, just like me, so me and him kind of get along very, very well.”
That’s high praise, coming from Pickens.
“He definitely has the most swag on the team, so if he’s saying I’ve got swag, I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Reichard said.
Pickens said his on-field abilities are a “bit of a mixture” between star NFL wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones.
“I got the hands but I also have the size,” Pickens said. “My route running is very crisp and I feel like I’m Odell in a special way, (with) how big I am, but I can move in and out of breaks to.”
Pickens, a four-star athlete, is the No. 3 player in Alabama and the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation, per 247 Sports.
Reichard is the No. 1 kicker in the country.
His calm demeanor under pressure situations aligns with what Pickens said about him being laid back.
“(I) act like it’s any other kick. I do it all the time in practice, so it’s not really too much pressure to me,” he said. “I just go out and kick the ball.”
By the sounds of it, he’s a stud at practice. Pickens said the kicker once drilled a 72-yard field goal.
“I don’t really understand why a lot of kickers will kind of choke up a little bit,” Reichard said. “I go out and kick a ball and run off the field, basically.”
That’s putting it simply. But Reichard tries to employ that mindset to keep the pressure off.
It doesn’t sound like going to rival schools will hamper the friendship between the two Hoover players. Reichard has family members who have attended Auburn, including his sister, who is currently a student there.
That doesn’t mean they haven’t trash talked a little already, though.
“He was like, ‘I’m probably going to go to Alabama,’ it was between them and LSU,” Pickens said. “I was like, ‘Wow, bro. Really.’ … We kind of have fun with that.”
The Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for Jan. 3 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. and will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.