DITR – John Michael Pickett

John Michael Pickett is a 5’11”, 185 pound, class of 2025 Middle Linebacker from Winnfield High School in Winnfield, Louisiana. John Michael is a fast, high-paced linebacker who has a nose for the football and isn’t afraid to make a hit on a ballcarrier. He played sparingly in 2021 as a Freshman before becoming a starter in 2022, and racked up 35 tackles between defense and special teams. John Michael also occasionally lines up at Safety. He really enjoys watching Luke Kuechly highlights and models his game after him, as Kuechly was both great in the run game, adding up tackles in the box, and was also a great coverage linebacker, being able to drop back and cover tight ends and sometimes even receivers. Kuechly was always a great human off the field, and John Michael looks up to him and believes that if he both plays and acts like Kuechly, it will take him far in his football career. Speaking off of the field, John Michael has a respectable 3.7 GPA. This will certainly help him when it comes time for him to be recruited by college scouts.

John Michael participated at a recent Gridion Football camp in March 2023 in Jonesboro, Louisiana. There, he ran a 5.28 40-yard dash, a 4.50 shuttle time, and jumped 7’6″ in the broad jump.

Photo courtesy of John Michael Pickett (#21)

I recently interviewed John Michael and asked him a few questions:

Why and at what age did you start playing football?

“I began to play the sport of football at a young age, not only because it is a tradition that runs in my family, but of all the fun, exciting experiences and memories made by my family as they played. I began playing youth tackle football at the age of 10 years old.”

Have you always played your current position, or did you play a different position growing up?

“During youth football, I played right guard. In Junior High, I started both sides of the ball, playing center and middle linebacker. As a freshman in high school, I matured and played strictly middle linebacker, being what I play now, defense only.”

What sets you apart from everyone else on the field?

“My mental ability to read and react to plays separates me from everyone else on the field. With the help of our wonderful defensive coordinator, we are given tips and tools to read, react, and execute.”

What is your favorite accomplishment so far in your football career?

“My favorite accomplishment so far in my football career would have to be lettering both years of my highschool career. I played and got a good amount of reps my freshman year, and started my sophomore year.”

What is your favorite memory of playing football so far?

“My favorite memory of playing football so far was making it to the Louisiana State Playoffs and seeing all of the support from our school, community, and surrounding schools.”

How do you balance athletics and academics?

“I balance academics and athletics by always putting academics first. We are taught that if you do not have the proper grades, you will not be eligible to play. During the season, the first thing I do after practice is study, or do homework so that my grades do not begin to slip.”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on the field?

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced on the field is facing bigger guys than me. With me not being as big as everyone else, I have to use my quick reads and block shedding abilities to make plays while facing bigger guys.”

How do you stay physically fit outside of football?

“Outside of football, I workout on my own at our local commercial gym. I workout a series of muscle groups throughout the week and condition following everyday. I like to constantly become stronger, faster, and overall a better athlete.”

What are you hoping to achieve in this upcoming season?

“I am hoping to be the leading tackler for our team’s defense. I also want to be a leader and role model throughout our program. I believe my actions and work ethic resemble what a good leader should be.”

What is your end goal for your football career?

“My end goal for my football career is to leave a good reputation, learn life lessons, and how to be responsible, respectful, and to be a leader.”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned playing football?

“I have learned that even during tough times, you cannot let adversity overcome you. You must stay locked in and complete any and every assignment as you would any other time.”

How do you prepare for big games?

“I prepare for “big games” the same as I would any other game. The night before I always eat a high carb meal for energy and strength, hydrate, and watch film one last time. The day of the game, I am very quiet; I keep to myself getting all of my school work done. After school, I always put my headphones on and listen to my music to block out all distractions. An hour before game time, I watch motivational videos to get my mind right. At that time, it’s time to rock and roll.

What type of play style do you have?

“I play with a very fast, physical style. I’m always the first one to a tackle in the box because of my fast reads. One of our mission statements is “alignment, assignment, and execution.” You must know your alignment, you must know your assignment, and all there is left to do is execute. My fast reads help me get tackles and my physicality helps drain the energy out of players, force fumbles, and force interceptions.”

Lastly, who is the biggest role model in your life?

“The biggest role models in my life are my sisters. They are never satisfied and always hungry for more. They always go above and beyond. They are great leaders, role models, and someone to talk to when you just need to talk. With both of them being previous athletes, they can relate to some of our conversations and are supportive, driving, and always pushing me to be better.”

Photo courtesy of John Michael Pickett (#21)