Georgia veterans anxious to see freshmen

mlough@macon.comJuly 26, 2011 

Mark Richt has to wait.

He can’t watch any of the newcomers work out with the veterans, and he can’t get any reports from the strength and conditioning staff.

But that’s not to say he doesn’t know a little bit of what he’s in for from Georgia’s highly touted signing class when the Bulldogs begin practice in a little more than a week.

And yes, Richt is ready to see running back Isaiah Crowell.

“I’ve got a sense of anticipation,” Richt said. “I’m curious to see what’s going to happen when we put the pads on the first time and get an inside drill or a team run and go live and see what he does, see how he handles getting hit really hard, see how he handles the speed of the Southeastern Conference. I’m like any other fan would be, just to be curious to see how it’s going to go.”

Georgia went for a dream team in recruiting and pretty much got the players it targeted. The freshmen haven’t played a down of college football nor taken a hit in practice from a college defender.

But they’ve been in Athens almost all summer doing unsupervised drills with teammates and going through strength and conditioning.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray is as anxious as anybody for practice to start and get those youngsters on the field.

“There are some tremendous athletes in that class and some tremendous big guys in that class,” he said. “I think they are definitely going to be some great additions to the team.”

The priority with Crowell -- and pretty much all freshmen -- isn’t on the field just yet, and Murray’s advice to his new running mate is to learn the playbook.

“We expect Isaiah to learn what to do and to do things the Georgia way and to try to do anything he can to help the team win as a fresh,” Richt said. “He’s got to learn how to handle college, period.”

Junior cornerback Brandon Boykin has had his eyebrows raised a few times this summer.

“Malcom Mitchell, off the top,” Boykin said. “I guard him a lot every day, and he’s progressing really great. Chris Sanders -- a defensive back, he’ll probably play corner -- looks really good, can run.”

Boykin, who said Mitchell is already making big-time catches, also listed wideout Chris Conley and tight end Jay Rome have also stood out.

“There are so many of them that can play,” Boykin said. “You can see it right away that they’re going to be good once they figure out what to do and get their technique down.”

Murray has kept a sharper eye on the new receivers, since that position is wide open with the departures of A.J. Green and Kris Durham.

“A couple of the freshmen that have already started (look) tremendous at receiver,” he said. “Malcom Mitchell, I think, could start for anyone in the country right now. That kid’s special.

“Justin-Scott Wesley, he’s another kid that could easily come in and play right away, too.”

Richt knows that unit is a focal point.

“From what I hear from Murray, there’s a couple young guys that have a chance to add a little firepower,” Richt said. “We’ll see. We have got some guys on this team that can be highly productive offensively.”

For all of the physical talent on display, Murray is happier with what he has seen mentally.

“They’re ready to go, they work hard,” said Murray, estimating eight or so freshmen could be of impact this season. “They came in with the mentality that ‘We’re going to work hard and live up to the hype.’

“They’re in the 6 (a.m.) workout group. They’re there every morning, working hard. Then they come in in the afternoon and do 7-on-7 drills with us. “I wasn’t sure if they were going to be that good, but they’re every bit as advertised.”

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