In search of a sobriquet
28 August 2001
They called Don Heinrich “The Arm,” Hugh
“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
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.