Zacch Pickens is having so much fun playing running back that he wouldn’t mind to do some of it in college.
And according to Pickens and TL Hanna coach Jeff Herron, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said the five-star prospect will be part of the Gamecocks’ short-yardage package when he arrives on campus in January.
“Coach Muschamp came to one of our games and we were talking in the end zone. He said he was impressed with Zacch running and he said we are going to put in our short yardage stuff next year. I said coach that would be probably a good idea.”
Pickens is all for it.
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”Coach Muschamp already said they will have something for me (at goal line) so I will play and do whatever I’m needed,” Pickens said. “It has been fun playing running back. I thought I would get tired (playing both ways) but I haven’t been.”
Pickens leads the team with 839 yards rushing and he has a pair of 100-yard games in the postseason, including last week against Byrnes. He might have had more yards but he didn’t play much in second half of games with TL Hanna up so big.
It is the first time in his career Pickens has played running back in TL Hanna’s wing-T offense. Pickens lobbied Herron for more than a year and finally got a chance to during spring practice and the coach obliged to just to “appease” him.
Even though Herron said yes to the 283-pound Pickens, he figured he would give him a carry or two but that would be it. But since the season has gone along, his workload has increased. In the past two games, Pickens has 31 carries.
“He has been part of our team on both sides of the ball,” Herron said.
“He is a great, special player,” TL Hanna quarterback Alex Meredith said. “He does a lot of work for us, gets tough yards and always falls forward. He is hard to bring down because he is so big. He is great to have back there. I can count on him to get the first down on a crucial third or fourth down late in the game. ... To tackle him for four quarters wears on you so he is nice to have.”
Pickens has done a bit of everything for the Yellow Jackets on both sides of the ball. On defense, he leads the team in tackles (82), sacks (5) and tackles for loss (14).
The TL Hanna five-star prospect and South Carolina commit will be playing his final high school game at Williams-Brice, the site of where he will be playing his home games of his college career.
“It is a huge opportunity and can’t wait to play there with my team there,” Pickens said of Williams-Brice. “It’s exciting and kind of sad at the same time. I’m leaving the team I grew up with to go with another team. But it is all in the process.”
Pickens said he received congratulatory messages from the USC coaching staff following TL Hanna’s 57-28 win over Byrnes.
Playing in state title caps an amazing senior season Pickens, who began the year with committing to South Carolina during a preseason scrimmage. He has added other honors in the process such as being selected as 5A Upper State lineman of the year, picked for the Shrine Bowl and Under Armour All-American game.
But the one Pickens is most happy is helping TL Hanna to its first state title appearance since 1974.
“We knew back in the spring this team could be special,” Pickens said. “We just needed to stay focus and we really thank coach Herron. He preached us to it to play one game at a time and here we are.”
State Championship Schedule
At Benedict College
Green Sea Floyds vs. Lamar, 5 p.m.
Abbeville vs. Barnwell, 8 p.m.
At Williams-Brice Stadium
Myrtle Beach vs. Greer, noon
Dillon vs. Chester, 3 p.m.
Dutch Fork vs. TL Hanna, 6:30 p.m.
Friday’s games will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com (subscription required).
Saturday’s games will be will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com and carried locally on WACH Fox 57.2 (TWC 1250) and across the state on WCIV 36.1 (MyTV Charleston) in Charleston, Asheville/Greenville on WMYA MyTV 40 and in Florence/Myrtle Beach on WWMB CW21.