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Recruiting

Top in-state target working to build rapport with Bates

Living in Clemson’s “backyard” just 30 minutes away from the school, Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hanna defensive end Zacch Pickens, one of the top prospects in the 2019 class, has been on Clemson’s radar for quite some time.

Pickens has visited Clemson a number of times, most recently in late March.

“It was nice,” Pickens told The Clemson Insider recently. “The facility was wonderful. Sliding down that slide and seeing all that was real nice.”

The visit not only gave Pickens the opportunity to get his first look at the new facility, but also allowed him to meet Todd Bates for the first time.

Bates, of course, took over as Clemson’s defensive line coach in January following former defensive ends coach Marion Hobby’s departure for a job in the NFL.

“He just told me that he really wanted me to come here,” Pickens said. “He’s a real nice guy. I’ve got to get to know him more, like I got to know coach Hobby a lot.”

Pickens was able to attend Clemson’s practice while on campus and liked what he saw when watching Bates coach the D-line.

“The defense was really good, all swarming to the ball together,” Pickens said. “Both of them were really getting back there, the second team and the first team.”

Clemson offered Pickens in March 2016. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound pass rusher holds other offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Despite his proximity to Clemson and South Carolina, Pickens isn’t a lock to stay in state for college. He visited Florida State in March, as well, and some view the Seminoles as frontrunners with the Tigers.

Pickens had an affinity for Clemson and South Carolina as a kid, but grew up a fan of FSU, too.

“I fell in between Florida State, South Carolina and Clemson,” he said. “Growing up, it was hard to choose. Whoever was winning, that was my team.”

For the 2019 class, Pickens is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 prospect in the Palmetto State, No. 4 strong-side defensive end and No. 16 overall prospect.

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