USC Recruiting

Gamecock commits Smith, Pickens had not spoken much. That changed this week

Watch USC commitments and Midlands area players practice for the Shrine Bowl

Practice for South Carolina's Shrine Bowl team was forced inside Tuesday morning by snow remaining on the field. USC and Clemson commitments and Midlands players make up part of the team.
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Practice for South Carolina's Shrine Bowl team was forced inside Tuesday morning by snow remaining on the field. USC and Clemson commitments and Midlands players make up part of the team.

Zacch Pickens and Cam Smith didn’t get a chance to know each other much during the recruiting process, but that will change this week as teammates in the Shrine Bowl.

The two future South Carolina Gamecocks immediately struck up a friendship when they arrived Sunday to participate in the 82nd annual all-star contest. Pickens and Smith are the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked recruits for the South Carolina squad in the game, according to the 247Sports Composite ranking that factors in all networks.

“Me and Cam act a lot alike and mess around in practice,” Pickens said. “I can’t wait to play with him. When I knew he was here, we started laughing and joking around together.”

“Zacch is a lot of fun, we connected as soon as we got here,” Smith said. “He is a funny guy and great to be around.”

The two had a lighthearted moment during the morning practice Tuesday, which was held inside because of weather. Smith, a cornerback, joked with Pickens, a defensive end, that they should switch positions for a play and got down in a three-point stance on the line.

“He said he could take defensive line and I could take defensive back for a little bit. Whenever he wanted to switch, I can switch with him it doesn’t matter to me,” joked Pickens, the 6-foot-5, 285-pound five-star recruit. “But he should probably stay where he is at and I should stay where I am at too. I can just jam the receiver a bit and hopefully the safety would help me over the top.

Pickens, who didn’t practice in the afternoon session, showed he can move for a big guy this season playing running back in T.L. Hanna’s Wing-T offense. He also showed off his skills in Friday’s Class 5A title game when he returned an interception for a touchdown in the loss to Dutch Fork.

The Shrine Bowl is the first of two all-star games for Pickens and Smith. Pickens will play in the Under Armour All-Star game in Orlando on Jan. 3 and Smith at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 5.

Then, it will be off to South Carolina for the duo as both will enroll in January. The Westwood senior took his official visit for the Gamecocks over the weekend and came away impressed with the new Long Family Football Operations Center.

“It (operations building) is coming along great,” Smith said. “Weight room is humongous and the locker room is amazing. My mom has a countdown when the calendar hits December. I got less than 30 days. I am prepared, just staying calm and do everything I am supposed to do so that when I get there I don’t get off track.”

Both Pickens and Smith are expected to have to compete for playing time right away in spring practice. But until then, they are going to enjoy the next couple weeks playing against some of the top competition around the state and in the country.

“Have fun with it. Not take everything too serious,” Pickens said. “We got selected for a reason just go out there and have fun with it and play the game you love.”

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