Georgia receiver Brown looking for his chance to play

semerson@macon.comApril 12, 2012 

ATHENS -- Marlon Brown might be the best practice player in the recent history of the Georgia football program.

For the past four years, the receiver has drawn raves during springs and preseasons. A breakthrough season is predicted. And then the season starts, and the breakthrough doesn’t happen.

The disappointment usually starts with a minor injury, but one that lingers. Brown has never played a full season at Georgia.

So that’s why at the start of this year’s spring practice, when Brown had a minor finger injury, he and fellow receiver Tavarres King joked about Brown needing to stay in bubble wrap between now and September.

“I’m healthy right now, and I hope I stay that way,” Brown said this week.

The result has been -- wait for it -- yet another spring when Brown’s play draws raves from coaches and teammates.

King, the team’s leader in receiving yards last year, said Brown has done as well as anybody on offense. Receivers coach Tony Ball has twice said that Brown has been the best of his group this spring.

To be fair, stardom is not a stretch for someone with Brown’s pedigree and athleticism. The 6-foot-5 former basketball player was an elite football prospect coming out of Memphis, Tenn. He was a Parade All-American and Tennessee’s Mr. Football. His signing was considered a coup by Georgia.

But, through three seasons, Brown has a total of 28 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns.

“I’ve been very frustrating. Because it’s not been big injuries, it’s been little injuries that’ve been holding me back,” Brown said. “But, right now, I’m not even thinking about the past. I’m thinking about the future.”

Last year, Brown’s strong summer camp was derailed by a torn tendon in his right ring finger. He played with the injury, but head coach Mark Richt said Brown “never seemed to hit his stride again after that.” Brown had surgery on the finger in the offseason.

So what are the chances Brown will finally put it together this season? Why is this time different?

“If he just continues on the path that he’s on, I think he’ll be fine,” Richt said. “He looks great right now. If he doesn’t have any setbacks, he’s gonna do well.”

Ball was asked the same question.

“You hope that he’s able to put it together. We play a physical, violent game, and the slightest thing can happen,” Ball said, then recalled the preseason when a teammate fell on Brown’s ankle, causing another injury.

“But he’s always been prepared, he’s always been in great shape over these past years. I hope he can. I hope he can come out of the preseason and go into the season at full speed. It’ll be fun to watch.”

Brown was asked if it was OK to believe in him this time around.

“If y’all didn’t believe in me last time, then I don’t know what to say you this time,” he said. “But I’m healthy right now, and that’s all I’m worried about.”

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