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In search of a sobriquet
by Malamute, 28 August 2001

They called Don Heinrich “The Arm,” Hugh McElhenny, “Hurrying Hugh,” and Marques Tuiasosopo, “The Warrior.” If you were to pick a nickname for Washington quarterback Cody Pickett, what would it be? Hint: he has a rifle for an arm; comes from Caldwell, Idaho; lived on Chicken Dinner Road; qualified for the national rodeo finals; and his dad, Dee Pickett, was the 1984 World Champion Cowboy? 

Why not “cowboy” for a nickname—“Cowboy” Cody Pickett? "Cowboy Cody" is a great alliteration and adds more than a tint of color to the Pickett persona. But nicknames for football players aren’t easily handed out. To win a sobriquet from the media—whether it be “cowboy” or another nickname—Cody Pickett, has to earn it by demonstrating leadership on the playing field and by taking the Huskies to a major bowl. That’s the way it’s done.   

Pickett is the heir apparent to quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, who led the Huskies to a tie for the Pac-10 championship and to a victory in the Rose Bowl over Purdue last season. Pickett came to Washington in 1999, ranked as the number 15 quarterback in the nation by The Sporting News. Once he out-threw Jake Plummer (Arizona Cardinals) at a summer camp in Boise, tossing the football 75 yards. He is a four-sport athlete in golf, basketball, rodeo and football. Athleticism coupled with pure passing ability are rare ingredients to find in a college quarterback. "I think Cody is a terrific athlete," Coach Neuheisel has been quoted as saying. "He's got all the physical attributes you look for in a quarterback in terms of size and speed and arm strength. He's definitely tough, too. The thing he lacks is experience."  

Swinging a rope since he was a kid, Pickett reached the national high school rodeo finals in 1997 and 1998. During his sophomore year in high school he earned more than $30,000 on the rodeo circuit.

With Pickett leading the Dawgs, look for them to run the option that worked so well last season. Pickett (4.57 seconds in the 40) is faster than Tuiasosopo was and is big enough (6-4, 215 pounds) to take the hits that come with running the ball. Although he has never started a game for Washington and has played infrequently in regular season games, having thrown just eight passes, he has practiced with the team for two years now and is expected to get the starting nod against Michigan. 

Quarterback coach, Steve Axman, and offensive coordinator, Keith Gilbertson, have taught him well. Completing 15 of 23 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the Spring game, Pickett demonstrated leadership and a reluctance to turn the ball over. He didn't throw an interception in the three major spring scrimmages, nor did he throw one last week in the Fall scrimmage. Not turning the ball over will be important for the Huskies in its first two regular season games against Michigan and Miami, especially so, if the defenses dominate play.

This season Pickett will likely share quarterback duties with junior college transfer Taylor Barton, who may be the most accurate thrower of the two. Behind them are freshman sensation Casey Paus, the brother of quarterback Cory Paus, who plays for UCLA. However, Casey will most likely redshirt if Pickett and Barton stay healthy. (Paus is pictured to the right).

Pickett has the smarts to be a quarterback. As a business major, he's earned honorable mention, Pac-10, All-Academic honors.

On the down side, he was given a medical redshirt in 1999 due to a back problem. Taylor Barton has had arthroscopic surgery on both knees. It will be important for both of them to stay healthy this season, considering Washington's inexperienced front line and the rawness of Casey Paus.

It's far too early to call the rodeo roper from Chicken Dinner Road, "Cowboy Cody." But Cody Pickett has everything going for him, athleticism and a strong arm. Next season the Huskies and Pickett should be even better. Whether he likes it or not, being called "Cowboy Cody" is inescapable. As they used to say in Brooklyn, wait until next year.

For more on Taylor Barton.

(The pictures of Cody Pickett appearing above, courtesy of dawgman.com).

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