ATHENS -- Marlon Brown finally had the breakthrough season that he and the Georgia football team long envisioned. That included one big moment in what proved to be his final college game.
Brown tore the ACL in his knee Saturday and will require surgery. That means the Georgia senior receivers season and his college career are over.
The news is the second major hit to Georgias talented receiving corps. Sophomore receiver Michael Bennett tore his ACL four weeks ago, prior to the teams game against South Carolina. Both Brown and Bennett were leading the team in catches at the time of their injuries.
Its just a hard thing to swallow right now, head coach Mark Richt said.
Georgia (8-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) moved up to fifth in the BCS standings Sunday and is a win away from a trip to the SEC championship game. But it will have to go forward without two of its better offensive weapons.
We still have some playmakers, Richt said. But Marlon and Michael were just two outstanding football players. I mean at the time of the injuries were both leading the team in receptions and actually have a nice physicality to them, as well, at that position. You know, well miss that. Other guys will just have to step up and get after it.
Browns injury was confirmed by an MRI on Saturday night, according to UGA head athletics trainer Ron Courson. But Courson, in a statement through the team, was confident Brown would make a full recovery ... that will enable him to continue his career in the future.
Thats just an injury that people recover from well. We know hell be able to continue on to his pro career, Richt said. I think he was well on his way to having that happen for him. Were very sad and sorry that it happened for Marlon and for Georgia, too. Hell recover. Hell do fine.
Brown, who started every game this season, hurt his knee during the third quarter of Saturdays 37-10 win over Mississippi; Brown led Georgia with three catches for 113 yards in the game, including a 66-yard touchdown pass that got Georgia going in the first half. For the season, Brown ranks second on the team in catches (27), receiving yards (469) and touchdowns (four).
Georgia still has leading receiver Tavarres King, a senior, and sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, who is one of the teams top receivers this year. Players who could see increased roles now include sophomore Chris Conley and redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley. Blake Tibbs, a freshman, will continue to redshirt.
Richt also pointed to junior Rantavious Wooten, who has 12 catches and two touchdowns this year.
Wooten, as you saw, made a nice play on a touchdown catch (against Ole Miss), Richt said. Malcolm Mitchell certainly and Tavarres King obviously has been making plays his whole career for us. Chris Conley has made plays for us over his career. Weve got faith in Rhett McGowan, who is a very dependable guy and has been making plays for us. So theres still guys that could do it.
Brown was a highly touted recruit four years ago out of Memphis, spurning his home-state Tennessee to sign with Georgia. But he struggled to live up to the promise his first three seasons, mostly because of small, nagging injuries.
This year he finally broke through, only to see his season and career end prematurely.
God never puts you thru something he doesnt think you can handle, Brown posted on his Twitter account Sunday evening. Im still very blessed and love you guys. Thanks for the prayers.
Brown was injured after making a catch in the third quarter. Richt said after the game he didnt think the tackle by the Ole Miss defender was anything dirty and chose not to add to his comment on Sunday.
I didnt really study that (Sunday), Richt said.
In other injury news, starting right guard Chris Burnette, who injured his shoulder during Saturdays game, is regarded as day-to-day.
The injuries have piled up across the lineup for Georgia. Senior defensive end Abry Jones is likely out until the postseason after ankle surgery, and star linebacker Jarvis Jones has missed two games with injuries.
Its a physical game, Richt said. You know, its a very high-contact sport. A lot of emotion, a lot of guys running into each other. So things are gonna get hurt.