Down Highway 49 South as you drive south from Jackson to Hattiesburg, you go through a greasy spot in the road called Mt. Olive. Mt. Olive is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Collins then Seminary, Mississippi. In case you don’t remember, Mt. Olive produced a decent quarterback by the name of Steve McNair (2/14/1973 – 7/4/2009), who was ironically called (Air McNair). Another legend in the making was born in Mt. Olive but played his high school football about 10 miles down the road at tiny Seminary High School (The Bulldogs).
His name is Nathan Pickering. No. 22, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, and he will be a sophomore this year. This young stud will anchor the middle of the defensive line after playing NT in nine games last year, starting one. Pickering is an incredibly hard worker both on and off the field, as he majors in mechanical engineering. This young man not only has the physique to play football at a high level, but he is extremely dedicated to getting his degree in his field before finishing at Mississippi State.
If you attended or watched many games last year it was easy to see the rapid progression Pickering (I just can’t call him a kid) was making through reps at practice and in games. He was rapidly figuring out football in the Southeastern Conference. He collected his first career sack against Auburn, his next one in the second quarter against Alabama and his third against Abilene Christian, making him third on the team in sacks as a true freshman. Pickering recorded six tackles for loss last season and then voted as a member of the 2019 ALL-SEC Freshman Team.
While Pickering may have been overmatched at times as a freshman, he battled and never stopped. As a sophomore in 2020, look for him to have a breakout year at NT and earn the respect of every team he faces. To me, Pickering epitomizes what Mississippi State has been for years but maybe didn’t show very well last year. As a true freshman, he got beat at times, but he NEVER quit battling, and this year he will be even stronger and smarter while elevating his game to a higher plane.
In my opinion here, while Pickering is not the next Jeffrey Simmons, he is an extraordinarily talented and hard-working young man who has a very bright future ahead of him at Mississippi State and beyond.
LET’S GO TWO-TWO