By the time he was in grade school, Pickett was already combining rodeo and football. At the rodeos he would turn the riders into receivers, tossing his Nerf football to the cowboys as they circled him while warming up their horses with a light canter. When he wasn't roping or riding, Pickett was usually learning about football from his father.
Cody was a fast learner in both sports, developing into a star quarterback at Caldwell High and becoming skilled enough with a lasso to advance to the national rodeo finals in team roping in his sophomore and junior years. As a team roper Pickett would help force the steer in the direction of his partner, who would rope the horns; Pickett would then do the same with the feet.
Pickett is equally adept at roping the feet of teammates as they walk by, and he's tempted by other targets. "We were on the golf course one time and some geese were around," says Washington senior fullback Adam Seery. "Cody was like, 'Dang, I wish I had my rope.' " But Pickett doesn't show off his rodeo skills to teammates very often. "Probably the best way to get him to bring his ropes out is to tell him you're better at it than he is," says junior tackle Khalif Barnes.
That's because the ultracompetitive Pickett can't pass up a contest of any sort. No challenge is too small, no challenger too young. When he played a football video game against the 12-year-old daughter of quarterbacks coach John Pettas this summer, he was generous enough to let her score on the first play. "But then she started talking trash to me, so what could I do?" Pickett says, smiling. "I had to show her who's boss."
Junior wideout Reggie Williams recently boasted that he could beat Pickett, who was also an outstanding high school basketball player, in one-on-one eight out of 10 games. When that information was relayed to Pickett, he immediately sought out Williams. He didn't care that his buddy was in the middle of a live radio interview at the time. "You can beat me eight out of 10?" he said to Williams. "Are you kidding me?"
The Huskies are better off when Pickett gives and Williams receives, and they're hoping their cowboy QB will begin distributing touchdown passes this weekend in Columbus. If he does, he will take a giant step toward that Heisman, and once he gets close enough, Cody Pickett can rope just about anything.