This time last year, the Georgia Bulldogs were anticipating signing their next standout running back.
That running back who was going to change the program.
You know, the next Herschel Walker.
That has been the ongoing theme for the Georgia program since the mid-1980s, and last year, Isaiah Crowell was the latest running back to get caught up in the cross hairs of the grand search for the next Herschel.
Crowell had a pretty good first year for the Bulldogs and even was named the SEC’s freshman of the year, but there were issues on the field and off the field that held Crowell back. Greatness was predicted for Crowell, and the talent is definitely there to reach that level, but it’s easy to wonder if he has the desire to make that happen. The visual of Crowell tapping his helmet and coming out of a game because of an injury was just too common for Georgia fans to stand, and there were off-field problems that have made fans question Crowell’s maturity, work ethic and commitment to the team.
That leads us to the search for the next Herschel again this January. Georgia has to hope that works out better this year than last year or that maybe this year’s version can push last year’s version to be a better player.
The past few weeks, the Bulldogs have landed big-time tailback commitments from Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, and Marshall already has enrolled at Georgia. Both players are considered top-notch backs, and both should be seen as threats to Crowell’s spot as the Bulldogs’ top running back.
By enrolling early, Marshall will get a chance to go through spring practice with the team and make an immediate impact. Gurley, if he goes through with his pledge to sign with the Bulldogs on Feb. 1, will arrive this summer. And it’s a good bet those two aren’t planning to take a back seat to anyone; both are going to be looking to play right away.
That might be the best thing for Crowell, who some people believe won’t ever carry the football again for the Bulldogs. He needs someone to push him for playing time; he needs the threat of losing carries to another player or players who have similar talent. There were good backs on the Georgia roster this season, but there aren’t any who scare opposing defenses or push Crowell.
But with Marshall and Gurley coming in, the Bulldogs will have that. And if Crowell plans on being the star everyone thought he’d be, he’s going to have to work harder, become more focused and dedicate himself to becoming a better player and teammate.
If he can do those things, maybe he can be the next great Georgia running back after all.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org