By John Raffel,

Ryan Pickett showed professional football potential as early as his high school days. And he's enjoying as much success in his brief career with the St. Louis Rams as he did as a prep football player in Florida and a collegiate starter at Ohio State.

The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Pickett, a nose tackle, is still considered by pro football scouts as a young player on the rise with a lot of power and athletic abilities and good intensity playing the run. The Rams picked him in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2001 NFL Draft. He played in 11 games during his first season and three postseason contests in a reserve role on the defensive line and on special teams.

Since his rookie year, he's turned into more of an established pro player.

"Things went pretty well," Pickett said toward the end of the 2003 season. "I played well. In my third year, I was getting the hang of it. The hardest part from the college years is pretty much knowing that you have to take care of business."

At Ohio State, Pickett was a three-year starter and played both tackle positions. For his career, he finished with 109 tackles (72 solos), eight sacks for minus 39 yards and 20 stops for losses of 67 yards in 37 contests. He played at left defensive tackle junior season, recording 39 tackles (21 solos) with three sacks, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

An all-Big Ten Conference honorable mention as a sophomore, he started every game at right defensive tackle and made career-high 48 tackles (34 solos) with three sacks and one pass defense.

Pickett played in every game as a true freshman, starting final nine contests at right defensive tackle and finished with 22 tackles (17 solos), two sacks for minus-10 yards, and five stops for losses of 19 yards.

The native of Zephyrhills, Fla., was a consensus all-American selection, adding all-state honors, at Zephyrhills High. He was named one of the top 25 players in country by National Recruiting Advisor. He had 119 tackles and seven sacks during his senior season.

"We had a good program. We always had pretty good teams," said Pickett who played defensive end his junior year and nose tackle as a senior. "Linebacker was my favorite position of all."

Pickett said he started organized football at age 7 and has always played defense.

"I played offense my senior year in high school at offensive tackle," he said. "On defense, you get to hit. I like that."

Pickett received some friendly advice when it came to advancing his football career past high school.

"Our coaches helped us to get to the college level," Pickett said. "My head coach (Tom Fisher) taught me a lot about responsibility and kept me focused on things."

Pickett was a varsity starter three years.

"Every year, I got better," he said. "Quickness has always been my strength -- that and knowledge of the game is a big thing. I've always had the football smarts."

He demonstrated that on the high school level.

"I think the biggest game I ever had in high school, I had 20 tackles and six for losses," he said.

Pickett has usually had the size, too. He was at 290 pounds during his high school years. It was during that time he seriously thought about playing football at higher levels.

I was sure excited about college football," he said. "My sophomore year in college, I realized I could probably play pro football."

When he gets a chance to talk to high school football players who might have ambitions for the college and pro levels, Pickett doesn't hesitate to point out some critical things to keep in mind.

"You tell them things you have to do, like having good work habits," Pickett said. "You have to have a lot of character and positive attitudes. How you deal with things is what will make for a good player. You have to have a positive attitude."