Pickens will be leading Brother Rice in his third year in quarterback and hopes to direct the Warriors to another playoff season.
But Pickens is coming off a baseball summer in which he played with Team Michigan that finished third in the 18-and-under nationals at New Mexico. He’s being recruited by Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Clemson and Stafford, but said the Wolverines are on the top of his list right now.
Pickens led Brother Rice to the Silverdome last year where the Warriors lost to Lowell 31-14 in the Division 2 finals. One of his best games was in the season opener against perennial state power Farmington Hills Harrison. He was 11-of-17 in passing for 192 yards and four touchdowns. His longest pass was for 74 yards. He had three other games during the regular season where he threw for three touchdowns.
“I thought I played good compared to my sophomore year,” the 6-foot-1, 183-pound Pickens said. “In the last game, things slowed down. Our team improved as a whole. We came up short in the title game. Other than that, we had a great season.”
Pickens wouldn’t mind another crack at the state title but isn’t sure of his team’s potential right now.
“We’ll be a young team like we were in my sophomore year,” he said. “I think we’ll be OK. People say we lost a lot of players. But that doesn’t bother me.”
Pickens expects to take on more of a leadership role this season.
“I might do more running,” he said. “As a quarterback, I’ll probably be a better passer. I haven’t run that much.
“We’re going to have new receivers. We have to get used to them. I think we’ll be just fine. We’re going to have some speed, definitely, this year.”
While Pickens is getting back in the football mode, he’s relishing the memory of an outstanding baseball season, in which the Warrior catcher batted .464.
“I’ve been a catcher pretty much all my life,” he said. “I feel my arm strength is pretty good. I keep the ball in front of me. I’m able to slow things down and help the pitcher.”
“He’s a pretty good athlete. He’s been an all-state baseball his sophomore and junior years,” said Brother Rice football coach Albert Fracassa. “He’s right up there in the baseball world. I’m happy he’ll be playing football for me again.”
When he returns to the ball diamond next spring, Pickens wouldn’t mind improving on his impressive 2002 batting average.
“It wasn’t bad last year, but I’m hoping I can improve it a little. I’ve been seeing the ball a little bit more. I have to be patient and wait for the pitch I want to hit.”
Pickens hasn’t made his decision on his college baseball future yet, but said he’s leaning toward the Maize and Blue. But in November, he wouldn’t mind seeing the Orange and Black in the Silverdome again.