College Sports

‘A jewel’ for Gamecocks: Pickens shows off versatility in Shrine Bowl, even as a QB

Zacch Pickens talks Shrine Bowl performance, winning Mr. Football

South Carolina commit and T.L. Hanna defensive lineman Zacch Pickens was named Mr. Football and Defensive MVP in Shrine Bowl on Dec. 15, 2018.
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South Carolina commit and T.L. Hanna defensive lineman Zacch Pickens was named Mr. Football and Defensive MVP in Shrine Bowl on Dec. 15, 2018.

Zacch Pickens picked up South Carolina’s Mr. Football award early in the day Saturday at the same time he was showing his versatility during the Shrine Bowl.

Pickens turned in a strong defensive performance in the game with seven tackles and a pass break-up. He earned defensive MVP honors for the South Carolina squad in the 10-10 tie in the 82nd annual all-star game.

But it was Pickens’ offensive performance that had people talkingafter the game. He finished with a team-high 37 yards on seven carries.

“The coaches talked about it but they said we may or may not run it,” Pickens said. “I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to do it.”

Pickens even was put in the wildcat quarterback position and took direct snaps as he helped the stagnant S.C. offense get going in the second half. He had 19 of his 37 yards on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.

“That was a motel room play. We put that in in the motel room,” Sandlappers coach Jackie Hayes said. “Zacch made some big plays and got some crucial yards for us.”

Hayes came away impressed what he saw from Pickens both on and off the field this week.

“South Carolina has gotten them a jewel, not only as a player but as a person. Great attitude, great work ethic. I couldn’t be more pleased with him,” the Dillon hall of fame coach said.

Running the ball was nothing new for Pickens, who led T.L. Hanna in yards rushing and had 21 touchdowns during the year in helping the Yellow Jackets to Class 5A championship game. Pickens also played on special teams during the game Saturday, something he didn’t do during his senior season.

Pickens was one of four South Carolina commits who played in the game with Westwood’s Cam Smith and Williston-Elko’s Keshawn Toney playing for the S.C. squad and Central Cabarrus’s Derek Boykins going for the N.C. team.

Smith finished with five tackles, three solo, before leaving the game with a shoulder injury late in third quarter. Hayes said it was a stinger but Smith told TheBigSpur it might be a torn labrum.

Smith tweeted out later he is fine.

Toney was targeted twice and had one catch for seven yards.

Boykins finished with three tackles and was one of the N.C. captains for the game.

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