Monday, July 11, 2011

Caleb King Ineligible, I Hope Isaiah Crowell Is Really Good

We learned this weekend what had been rumored for months around Athens:  Caleb King is academically ineligible for the 2011 football season.  His less-than-stellar college career is over, and King will enter the NFL Supplemental Draft.

With the exception of one game (2009 We Run This State vs. Georgia Tech), King's Bulldog career can be classified as a major disappointment.  During his junior year of high school at Parkview, he was ranked as the #1 running back in the country by Rivals.  Much was made about his transfer to Greater Atlanta Christian for his senior year, where he suffered a leg injury in the middle of the season.

Luckily, I had the chance to see three of his games in person that season.  I hate to toot my own horn, but you can ask around, I was less than impressed with King when I saw him.  He ran by slower defenses and his  quick feet helped him elude defenders, but in the games I saw against great defenses, like Buford, he didn't finish runs.  He didn't run through contact and had eyes for the sidelines.

In fact, in the bleachers that night I compared him to Patrick Pass, another highly-touted Dawg who had a magnetic attraction to the sidelines.  Pass did have a NFL career with the Patriots and has a Super Bowl ring or two, so all hope isn't lost for King's career.  Just like Pass, King won't make his money as an every down back, but could see five carries a game and needs to be productive on special teams.  The one thing he has going for him is the same thing he's always had-he looks the part.  He may have to sign as a free agent, but some team will take a chance on him because of his measurables. (Raiders anyone?)

Now let's look forward to Georgia's running back situation this season.  With King and Washaun Ealey (transferred to Jacksonville St.) out of the picture, Carlton Thomas is the only back on the team with any game experience.  There has been some hype around the program for redshirt freshman Ken Malcome, and he will certainly give the running game a more physical aspect.

However, Bulldog Nation is hanging their hopes for 2011 on Isaiah Crowell, the five-star running back from Carver-Columbus.  Below is a link to his high school highlight film:
When watching that, it's easy to see why everyone is so excited.  He is fast, quick and can run through tackles to finish runs.  Fans are hoping he will have the same impact Marcus Lattimore had for South Carolina last season.

I have my doubts.

First of all, Georgia's offensive line worries me.  They have a brand new coach and little game experience. There isn't much depth either, with the loss of Trinton Sturdivant (ACL), A.J. Harmon and Brent Benedict (transfers).  Crowell could be the next Emmitt Smith but won't produce without good blocking.

The other thing that worries me most is that Crowell is only a freshman.  Anyone who thinks he is the next Herschel Walker is sadly mistaken.  There will only be one Goal Line Stalker.  Ever.  Crowell has had trouble making it through summer workouts, drawing ire from some of the Georgia staff.  He has been working harder as of late to get better prepared, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to carry the ball 20 times against Boise State.

Thomas and Malcome will have to be ready to get carries from the start of this season.  I hope Crowell is ready to shoulder the load from the start, but to expect him to run for 150 yards on 20 carries against Boise is ridiculous.  The fate of the Bulldog offense needs to rest on Aaron Murray and the receivers, not an uncertain running game.

One thing is certain: Mark Richt's job is on the line this season.  Preseason attrition is taking a major toll on Georgia's depth chart.  Let's hope Richt's career doesn't depend on just one true freshman.

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