If you stood at field level at a T.L. Hanna High School football game this season, there was something almost jarring about it.
The ball was snapped, and through the line came 6 feet, 5 inches and 280-plus pounds of five-star defensive lineman Zacch Pickens with the ball. High school kids were hanging onto the massive future South Carolina football player, trying to bring him down as young campers would a counselor.
In this, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp might see a solution for a pressing issue.
“I think he gives us some short yardage and goal line options,” Muschamp said, “to get a big back in there.”
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His two-way play this season has been well-documented. He had to lobby his head coach, Jeff Herron, to play offense, and went in at fullback in the Yellow Jackets’ Wing-T attack.
He ended up leading the team in yards at 889, carrying the ball 104 times (8.5 per carry) and scoring 22 offensive touchdowns.
USC, meanwhile, hasn’t been a great team converting in short yardage, especially in Muschamp’s first two seasons.
“I know that’s been a little frustrating for our fans,” Muschamp said. “I get most of the emails from our fans [about that]. So hopefully he’ll be able to answer some questions there for us too.”
He wouldn’t be the first talented defensive lineman-turned-short yardage runner, and any use of him there would invariably draw a few comparisons to Clemson’s jumbo backfield that saw Christian Wilkins get three carries and run for a pair of scores this year.
Of course, his skills will still primarily be used on the defensive side, where his mix of size, speed, strength and quickness could have him terrorizing offenses before long.
Asked what is said about a player that he’s already talking about going both ways in college, Muschamp fell back on the way he’s been a low-maintenance recruit throughout.
“He is an outstanding young man and he is going to be a great addition to our team,” Muschamp said.