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Stalwart left tackle David Pickard hopes to finish career on high note

October 23, 2011

By Tom Weber
Saluki Media Services

With only four games left on the schedule, Saluki offensive lineman David Pickard is starting to come to grips with the fact his football career at SIU will soon come to an end.

“I’ve started to think about that a lot more in the last few weeks,” he admitted. “Everyone says how fast it will go, but you don’t believe it until you get to that point and find out it’s true.”

Pickard has been a stalwart at left tackle for Southern, starting 39 out of 43 possible games, including 31-straight starts heading into this Saturday’s game versus Illinois State. At a position that takes a beating, he’s been remarkably healthy and resilient.

“Some of it’s good luck,” he said. “I’ve gotten dinged up along the way but was able to fight through it and keep on going.”

David Pickard has started 31-straight games at left tackle

He plays the most demanding position on the offensive line, usually battling an opponent’s best pass rusher, and he does it extremely well. As a sophomore, Pickard was a Third-Team Sports Network All-American. Last year, he added Second-Team ESPN Academic All-American honors to his resume.

“I never really thought about becoming an All-American,” said Pickard, whose other scholarship offers came from state schools Illinois State and Western Illinois. “I could see that there was going to be an opportunity to play at SIU, with a lot of older guys on the line at the time.”

Knowing he’s considered one of the top offensive linemen at the FCS level makes him wonder if a pro career is a possibility.

“It’s something you think about, but I’ve tried not to focus on it,” he said. “My focus starts and ends here with Saluki Football.”

If he were to play pro football, Pickard would almost certainly be moved to guard. At 6-foot-5 and 306 pounds, it’s hard to describe him as “small”, but by pro standards, he would be considered such.

“Even in our conference, it seems I’m undersized compared to all the other tackles,” Pickard admitted. “I’ve put on some weight, but I’d probably fit better as a guard.”

Pickard said there hasn’t been one key to his success at Southern, other than a strong desire to get better.

“There’s not really been a formula,” he explained. “I’ve taken it a day at a time and tried to keep improving. It was a struggle to go through different offensive line coaches, but it probably benefited me to learn different techniques in the long run.”

His career is filled with team highlights, including two conference championships and a playoff victory in 2009. Since linemen never score a touchdown or show up on the stat sheet, Pickard says the only time they get noticed individually is when they make a mistake.

“Being called for a penalty and giving up a sack are the two worst feelings for an offensive lineman,” he said. “It’s an awful lonely feeling.”

Not that he’s lost many battles in his career.

If pro football doesn’t work out, Pickard said he’ll have his master’s degree in public administration to fall back on. He hopes to have a career in law enforcement.

Meanwhile, there is still work to be done on the gridiron, and Pickard wants to put together a four-game winning streak to finish his career. Pickard knows his parents — Al and Sally — who have not missed a game during his career, will be there to support him.

“My mom was still teaching the first couple years I was playing at SIU, but she still made it to every game,” he said. “I’m an only child, and it means so much to me to have them here supporting me.”

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