August 30, 2011

Is Crowell ready?

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In four short days, Isaiah Crowell will play his first game for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Is he ready?

His teammates certainly believe so.

"He's a confident kid, he's really confident," wide receiver Tavarres King said. "He's been playing this game for a long time, he knows what's expected of him and he's been doing pretty well on the practice field."

Bulldog fans are counting on it being a memorable debut.

After all, the former five-star recruit is one of the state's more ballyhooed prospects to sign with the Bulldogs in recent years after a four-year career at Carver where he rushed for 4,972 yards and scored 61 touchdowns.

Count head coach Mark Richt among those anxious to see what Crowell's debut will entail.

"Through the recruiting process we pointed to this game as a game that he'd get an opportunity to show what he can do, to show the college football world what he's got. But I think once he's gotten here that he's quickly understood that it's not about Isaiah Crowell. It's about Georgia," Richt said. "Even reading some of the quotes, he's been mindful of his teammates and he knows he's got a lot to learn. He does want to do whatever he can to help the team win, and time will tell how much that will be as we go. But he's a very good football player and he's been a really good kid. He's had a good camp."

The Bulldogs have been careful to limit Crowell's time with the media during the month-long preseason camp.

In fact, Crowell has only been made available three times thus far for post-practice interviews, a decision Richt no doubt hopes has given the young player more time to focus on the job that lies ahead.

"What I hope is going through his mind is his assignments and knowing what to do on every play. We do have quite a few plays. He's like any other true freshman. He's trying to learn it, master it and try to get comfortable with it," Richt said. "It is nice to have Aaron Murray in the backfield with him who can guide him a little bit here and there to give him little reassurance that he's lined up in the right spot. I'm sure he's very excited. He did grow up wanting to be a Georgia Bulldog. He grew up wanting to play tailback for us."

So far, Murray likes what he's seen.

Although he's listed as the top backup to junior Richard Samuel, Richt said Tuesday he expects the two backs to basically split carries Saturday night against the Broncos.

"I think he will be fine. He's worked hard in practice and looks great. He's been making plays, picking up all of his assignments when it comes to blocking and picking up routes. It's going to be nerve-wracking for all the freshmen who will be going out there to have the chance to play their first game in the Dome against a huge opponent like Boise State," Murray said. "Even last week when we were driving to the Dome I was sitting next to Malcolm (Mitchell) in the bus heading over there and as soon as the Dome came in sight, I asked if he was nervous. He said 'Nah, I'll be fine.' I said don't lie. I'm going to be a little nervous, but just get a couple of plays under your belt and you'll be fine. Everyone is going to have a few jitters, but once the game gets going, everything will be fine."

Orson Charles' eyes lit up Tuesday when the subject of Crowell was interjected into the conversation.

"Isaiah is ready. I have no doubt that he's not. He's going to treatment, he's working out hard, he understands the playbook and he looks good when he practices," Charles said. "I have no concern."

Charles went on to explain why.

"I look at him every time he is on the field. He's lightning. Something always great is happening when he runs the ball, things that make you go 'Wow' then you realize he's just a freshman," Charles said. "I can't wait to see when he's two or three years down the road to see what he can do."

King's already given Crowell a little piece of friendly advice.

"Just stay cool. Just play your game and let the game come to you," King said. "Don't do anything you don't normally do."

That advice sounds good to Charles, too, albeit there's one more thing he'd like to say.

"I'd tell him just tell him to take it all in, seize the moment. A lot of people want to be in your shoes right now, a lot of people want to be in our shoes right now," Charles said. "I'd tell him look around, this might only happen once. You might get hurt tomorrow and be done, so seize the moment and after that take a deep breath and just play football."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]