Tag:Isaiah Crowell
Posted on: June 3, 2011 2:45 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:54 am
 

CBS College Football 100, No. 37: Isaiah Crowell

A special weekend breakout entry for the CBSSports.com College Football 100. You can read the rest of Nos. 40-31 here.

37. ISAIAH CROWELL, running back, Georgia.



Entering 2010, you could find the occasional pundit (and more than the occasional fan) who'd tell you Mark Richt was on the hot seat. Clearly, they were a year early; any SEC coach (Vanderbilt's excepted) who's legitimately on the hot seat doesn't go 6-7 with losses to a miserable Colorado team and a Conference USA opponent and retain his job. Richt did.

But if he wasn't on the hot seat then, another year spent wallowing in mediocrity, another year losing to Florida, another year spent saying "wait 'til next year" has assured that Richt is most definitely on the hot seat now. Any fewer than, say, nine wins and at least a runner-up finish in the SEC East, and there's no way even a measured, patient program like Georgia will be able to bring him back. And so it's only natural that with his job in jeopardy like never before, Richt is spearheading his team's turnaround with ... a freshman?

Almost: freshmen, if we're being technical, the so-called "Dream Team" of primarily in-state prospects that gave Richt his strongest recruiting class in years and seemed to singlehandedly restore momentum to the program. But even the five-star likes of defensive end Ray Drew and defensive back Malcolm Mitchell won't be expected to become the centerpieces of the Bulldog defense overnight. Isaiah Crowell, though? No, he's not even on campus yet. But the true freshman running back from Columbus (Ga.) is no doubt already the foundation on which much of Richt's offensive plans are being laid.

Just ask him:
“Heavily,” Richt said on ESPNU when asked how Crowell would be used next fall. “I expect him to come right in and compete right away. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him running that rock in the dome against Boise State on the opening play if he does what he’s supposed to do.”
For a publicly conservative-by-nature coach like Richt, an admission like that is tantamount to declaring Crowell the unquestioned starter ... and that was on Signing Day. Clearly, Richt believes Crowell to be the game-changer at tailback the Bulldogs haven't had since Knowshon Moreno departed, and he expects him to be that player from Day 1.

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But Richt almost has no choice to believe that, because the Bulldog offense needs him to be that player from Day 1. Aaron Murray put together a sensational freshman season at quarterback, but last season proved there's only so much he can do (even with the likes of A.J. Green around) without playmaking help elsewhere at the skill position. And with Green gone, the offensive line talented but in flux, the best remaining receiving target tight end Orson Charles, and Washaun Ealey finally exiled, Crowell looks to be far-and-away Murray's best bet to get that help. He might even be his only bet.

There's plenty of evidence, though, that Crowell is a bet that'll pay off in spades. Like current Heisman candidates Trent Richardson and Marcus Lattimore, Crowell arrives at Georgia not only with consensus five-star approval from the recruiting gurus but the honor of being the most sought-after SEC running back in his class. (Alabama and Auburn both fought tooth-and-nail for Crowell, to no avail.) At 5'11" and a solidly-built 210 pounds, Crowell already has the frame to deliver 25 carries a game and the power and speed to make those carries count.

In short, Crowell has both the opportunity and the talent to do for the Bulldogs exactly what Lattimore did for South Carolina last season. If he lives up to the hype, there's no reason Richt can't ride him right past a forgiving schedule (with no Alabama, LSU or Arkansas out of the West and no road game more difficult than Tennessee) all the way to Atlanta. If he doesn't? Most likely, someone other than Richt is patrolling the Bulldogs' sideline in 2012.

The guess here is that Crowell delivers, and the "Dream Team" momentum carries Richt into 2012 and beyond. But either way, Crowell enters 2011 as the most important true freshman in the SEC ... and possibly the country.

Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Clemson, Georgia set dates for rivalry renewal

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Fans along the Georgia-South Carolina border who've debated since Signing Day which of the surprisingly strong 2011 Georgia or Clemson recruiting classes was better, congratulations: in a couple of years, you'll get your answer on the field.

That's because the Bulldogs and Tigers have officially set dates to renew one of the oldest and most underrated rivalries in the South. Both ends of the home-and-home will be played as season openers, with Georgia playing host on August 31, 2013, and then traveling to Clemson on August 30, 2014. The series had been announced in August 2005, with the last meeting between the teams taking place in 2003.

The 2013 meeting should feature Isaiah Crowell running against Tony Steward,  Mike Bellamy going up against Ray Drew ... so yeah, two-years-plus away or not, we're clearing our calendar all the same.

Besides, Clemson-Georgia is usually must-see viewing anyway, a still-bitter rivalry that dates back to 1902 and features two sets of fans that don't care at all for each other. The most famous meeting between the two came in 1984, when Kevin Butler's 60-yard field goal gave the Bulldogs a 26-23 upset win over the second-ranked Tigers. YouTube doesn't offer up any footage, but we do have Larry Munson's "worse than bonkers" call, and unless you're a Clemson fan, that's almost as good anyway:



Here's hoping we get something half as good come 2013.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Washaun Ealey granted transfer from Georgia

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Running back Washaun Ealey will transfer from Georgia, the school announced today. Georgia has granted Ealey, a junior-to-be from Stillmore, GA, an unconditional release, so he's free to join the school of his choice for the 2011 academic year.

"Washaun and I have had several conversations in recent weeks," said head coach Mark Richt in a statement released today. "We both have come to the conclusion that a transfer to another institution would be in his best interest."

Ealey had been the Bulldogs' leading rusher in 2010, tallying 811 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground in 12 games while splitting time with junior tailback Caleb King. Neither back was particularly effective, and Georgia went 6-7 in a season that had started with much, much higher hopes. 

Unfortunately for Ealey, he fell out of the good graces of Richt and the program in February, and he was suspended from the team for what ended up being 18 days. His return was scarcely better, as injuries kept him out of all but four spring practices. That led to this surprising statement from Richt at a booster meeting two weeks ago:

“Washaun has a ways to go still to show me that he deserves to start or even play right now,” Richt told the room. “He has a ways to go in my book. We’ll see. I love him, though.”

At the point of a coach making public statements like that, a transfer seems almost inevitable, and that's what we got here. There's no telling as yet where Ealey's headed; often, players transfer closer to home, but seeing as how Ealey's from Stillmore, he can't really get much closer than Georgia. Also, there's no indication if he's going the FBS or FCS route. Being that he was a starting tailback, it seems like there's no shortage of FBS teams that'd like to get him in their backfield, but the real issue is whether he'd rather play one year of FBS ball or two of FCS -- especially if there's no guarantee that he'd start at an FBS school.

Ealey's transfer paves the way for King to take over the starting RB role, but highly touted freshman Isaiah Crowell could make a major push. If Crowell's good enough to overtake King in Week 1, look out: Crowell could make a Marcus Lattimore-style impact on the SEC this year.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Mark Richt not thrilled with Washaun Ealey

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Back in February, Georgia running back Washaun Ealey was suspended indefinitely by the team after he missed an early morning disciplinary run. The kind of disciplinary run your coach makes you do after you've broken a few team rules and gotten arrested for a hit-and-run accident along with driving on a suspended license. Well, coach Mark Richt reinstated Ealey to the team in time for spring practice, giving him the chance to work his way back into his coach's good graces, but Ealey hurt his hamstring after only four practices and sat out the rest of the spring.

Which allowed every other running back on the Georgia roster to loosen Ealey's grip on the starting job, and judging by the words of Richt at the Augusta Bulldog Club meeting on Wednesday night, I don't think Ealey's going to get it back.

“Washaun has a ways to go still to show me that he deserves to start or even play right now,” Richt told the room, including Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He has a ways to go in my book. We’ll see. I love him, though.”

Well, I suppose it's better to be loved on the bench than hated on it, but it doesn't sound like Georgia's leading rusher in 2010 is going to get much playing time in 2011. Richt also went on to say that the position is wide open, as Ealey competes with guys like Caleb King, Ken Malcome, Carlton Thomas and incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell.

Maybe if Washaun brings some adorable bulldog puppies to practice like Crowell had on signing day, Richt will begin to forgive him.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:49 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC East

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC East, team by team. In alphabetical order:


FLORIDA: When spring began, we said the Gators might have the most interesting offense in the country. Urban Meyer's former spread-option death machine, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, by none other than Charlie Weis, in the image of the steady no-frills pro-style attacks Will Muschamp saw work for old boss Nick Saban, as piloted by 2011-or-bust quarterback John Brantley? That's quite the storyline they've got going there.

But the Gators will have to hope it's a story that will be rewritten come the fall. While no one was expecting the offense to look like Weis's old New England Patriot attacks after three weeks of practice, no one was expecting it to put on a 13-10 spring game universally panned as a hideous eyesore, either. Brantley went an ugly 4-of-14 after missing his first six passes, the leading rusher was a walk-on defensive back, and the entire offensive output for the game amounted to 340 yards.

Much of that can be pinned on a wicked rash of injuries that took out most of the offensive line, an entire stable of running backs, multiple receivers, etc.; encouragingly, much of it can also be pinned on a rampaging defensive line led by Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, all members of Meyer's loaded 2010 class and all looking posied to make good on their five-star hype. But the bottom line is that much of it can also be pinned squarely on Brantley, who Muschamp and his other coaches universally lauded for an excellent spring but who showed little of that alleged improvement when playing in public.

Does it matter? Give him a solid summer and a solid fall camp, and it may not. But until Brantley proves he's something other than what he's appeared to be since the moment Tim Tebow left -- in over his head -- skepticism is in order.

GEORGIA: The biggest question entering the most critical spring of Mark Richt's spring tenure concerned the Bulldogs' biggest players: could their offensive line bounce back? When you have Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, a fleet of talented (if still unproven) receivers, and eventually Isaiah Crowell, if you have a line, you're going to have a heck of an offense.

There was good news and bad news on that front, the latter a devastating torn ACL suffered by fifth-senior and projected starting tackle Trinton Sturdivant. But there were positives, too, namely a terrific spring from potential All-SEC  center Ben Jones and guard-to-tackle position switch Cordy Glenn. G-day primary tailbacks Ken Malcome and Caleb King combined for 69 yards on 12 carries, a not-so-shabby 5.8 yards per-carry. Overall, the line was impressive enough this spring that senior Justin Anderson -- billed as a potential starter on the OL -- has been moved to defense.

The Dawgs had themselves a fine spring on the defensive front as well, with newly bulked-up nose tackle Kwame Geathers the talk of the Bulldogs' spring camp and converted safety Alec Ogletree providing a big boost the linebacking corps. The secondary is unsettled and one of those aforementioned receivers needs to emerge as a go-to target for Murray, but if the improvements in the front seven and offensive line aren't mirages, the Bulldogs wil be back in the thick of the East race all the same.

KENTUCKY: Consider it a successful second spring for Joker Phillips and the Wildcats. We noted that with nearly all of the major players from 2010's surprisingly effective Wildcat passing game gone, Phillips would want to make rebuilding that passing attack around junior quarterback Morgan Newton priority No. 1 in spring camp. And though we'll have to wait until fall to see the finished results, for now it looks like Mission Accomplished: Newton had a terrific spring, capped by a 23-of-44, 256-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Wildcats' Blue-White Game.

Things weren't perfect: the Wildcat receivers were plagued by drops, and a defense still adjusting to new co-coordinator Rick Minter's aggressive schemes paired several big plays with several breakdowns. But with Newton cementing himself as a reliable option under center and a veteran line paving the way for new tailback Raymond Sanders to average better than 7 yards a carry, there's far more optimism for the Wildcat offense coming out of spring than going in.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Whatever storyline you might have constructed ahead of time for the Gamecocks' spring, it was always going to overshadowed by the continuing Stephen Garcia circus. Until Carolina receives a definitive word one way or the other on Garcia's return (though as we wrote earlier today, that return seems likely), the team is going to be in something close to suspended football animation.  The lack of developments aside from Garcia was only enhanced by the fact that so many of Carolina's key players -- Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, an offensive line with four returning starters -- are known commodities.

That said, the Garnet-Black Game showed that if Garcia doesn't come back, the Gamecocks won't be totally lost at quarterback. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined to go a productive 23-of-40 for 344 yards (though Thompson threw a pair of picks), and on an offense with weapons like Lattimore, Jeffery, and tailback Kenny Miles (43 yards on just 6 carries in the spring game), "productive" should be enough.

The downside: those passing numbers came against a Gamecock secondary that got routinely torched in 2010 (FBS 97th in pass defense). Garcia or no Garcia, more improvement in that secondary will be necessary to take Carolina back to Atlanta.

TENNESSEE: Entering spring, the road to improvement for the Volunteers was clear: get stronger, more physical, better along each line of scrimmage, then let the Vols' cadre of up-and-coming skill position stars -- led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray -- do the rest.

The Vols made plenty of headway on the first part of that equation; the White team earned a dominant victory over the more starter-heavy Orange in the Vol spring game thanks in no small part to a bruising run game led by second-string tailback Raijon Neal; defensive linemen on both squads were able to get consistent quarterback pressure; and offensive lineman Alex Bullard and defensive tackle Daniel Hood won the team's top awards for spring performance. Both lines remain so young that there's still a long way to go to SEC dominance, but it seems unlikely they'll be pushed around the way they were at times in 2010, either.

But as for the other part of the equation, stay tuned. Bray went a miserable 5-for-30 quarterbacking the defeated Orange side, with Derek Dooley suggesting afterwards that perhaps Bray had been overconfident. Bray is expected to take a major step forward in his first full season as the Vols' starter, but if that step winds up as minor as the spring game proposes it might be, all the line improvement in the world won't push the Vols back into relevance in the SEC East.

VANDERBILT: When you finished last season dead last in the conference in both total offense and total defense -- and you are Vanderbilt -- any kind of improvement in any area will be music to new coach James Franklin's ears. But fortunately for the 'Dores, they saw some green shoots in two positions that have been partocularly troublesome the past few seasons.

One is quarterback , where previously scattershot senior Larry Smith completed 16-of-26 for 233 yards and a touchdown, leading his Black side to a 19-7 win over the Gold. The other is the defensive line , where defensive tackle Colt Nichter recorded a pair of sacks and defensive end Kyle Woestmann collected a sack and an interception. But when you're Vandy, you'll take whatever you can get.

"The big thing," Franklin said, "is that we stayed healthy."

For the same review of the SEC West, click here.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Georgia , who begins spring practice today.


Spring Practice Question: Is the Bulldog offense ready to make a push up front?


Entering 2010, the biggest reason Georgia was supposed to be the biggest challenger to two-time defending SEC East champion (and heavy 2010 favorite) Florida was, not coincidentally, their biggest players. Led by veterans like bookend senior tackles Clint Boling and Josh Davis, the Bulldogs boasted the nation's most experienced offensive line . With highly-regarded (and well-compensated) OL coach Stacy Searels leading the unit, the line was believed to be the SEC's best.

Entering 2011, things are very, very different. That line fell far short of the advance hype, with the Bulldogs finishing a disappointing 10th in the SEC in rushing (ahead of only Vanderbilt and Tennessee), doing nothing special in pass protection, and even seeing Searels juggle the lineup late in the year. Though the line wasn't the only problem, it also did precious little to help as Georgia scored 12 points or fewer three times (all losses) and finished a mediocre 56th in the country in total offense. Following the disappointment, Boling, Davis, Trinton Sturdivant (who eventually replaced Davis) and guard Chris Davis all graduated. Searels accepted the same position at Texas. And the advance hype will almost certainly move on to some other team this offseason.

But that doesn't mean it's too late for the Georgia line to get Mark Richt to another SEC title game. For starters, there's still plenty of talent on hand even after the departures, starting with senior center Ben Jones (pictured, a 2009 All-SEC pick before being overlooked last year), 325-pound senior guard Cordy Glenn, and junior guard Kenarious Gates, another player who ascended to the starting lineup late in the year. After seemingly tuning out Searels last year, the Bulldogs will have a new voice in their ears in new coach Will Friend. And maybe most importantly of all, the remaining Bulldogs will have the sting of last year's failures -- rather than an offseason of praise -- fueling them. If Georgia's spring practice shows that the line is enjoying the proverbial addition by subtraction and looks poised to make good on the hype a year late, the rest of the SEC should look out.

Previous Spring Primers
Why? Because if the Dawg line falls into place, everything else on the offense should, too. Aaron Murray was arguably the nation's best freshman quarterback in 2010 and could be the SEC's best signal-caller as a redshirt sophomore. Even with A.J. Green and Kris Durham gone, players like Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, and Rantavious Wooten -- not to mention future NFL tight end Orson Charles -- give the Bulldog receiving corps plenty of potential. And maybe most importantly of all, though he won't be in for spring, incoming tailback recruit Isaiah Crowell could deliver a Marcus Lattimore- like impact for an offense that spent 2010 crying out for a game-changer in the backfield.

Add all of that to a defense that seems certain to improve in the second year of Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, in a division that's as wide open as any in the SEC's recent memory, and the tools are there for Richt to forge a championship season out of even the miserable ashes of 6-7. But they won't do much good without a huge step forward from the offensive line, and that's where Bulldog fans' primary focus ought to be this spring.

Posted on: February 8, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Could Crowell puppy become next Uga?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There is no question which bulldog is the most famous Georgia bulldog at any given time: Uga, the university's English bulldog mascot, which has served on Georgia's football sidelines since 1956.

But on Signing Day, Uga got his first taste of actual competition for the honor: the unnamed (and undeniably adorable) bulldog puppy held aloft by blue-chip running back prospect Isaiah Crowell as he announced he would be attending Georgia and completing Mark Richt's "Dream Team" recruiting class. When the current Uga, Uga VIII, passed away last week , more than one Georgia fan joked that the school ought to simply promote the Crowell puppy to the job.

It turns out the puppy's candidacy might not be a joke after all, though. Crowell was short on details on Signing Day, but the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has since reported that the puppy (whose name includes a reference to legendary Georgia radio broadcaster Larry Munson) would make a highly viable heir to the throne :
The dog’s name is Magical Munson Woods, and Wednesday’s high-profile college signing was only the latest dip into Georgia football lore for the pup, which is part of the Uga lineage, and it’s owner, Mike Woods , who is best known to fans for painting of a bulldog atop his bald head at football games.

“I couldn’t have been more honored for (Crowell) to hold up one of my puppies,” Woods said. “It’s a great thing to be a Bulldog, and for him to hold up one of my puppies was absolutely great, especially with the puppy being part of the Uga line. I couldn’t ask for anything more" ...

“I’m going to offer him to Georgia for Uga IX,” Woods said. “I’ll be glad to give him to Georgia. He’s got the background to do it, and I’ve got the papers to prove it.”
If you're wondering what sort of fan would have an Uga-descended puppy waiting around for recruits to pose with and the university to possibly anoint as the school's next mascot, this kind of fan :



Clearly, this is a puppy whose ties to the University of Georgia could not possibly be any stronger. Dawg fans are firmly behind him . Not to be insensitive, but the current direct line of Ugas appears somewhat ... frail , for lack of a better term.

So, Georgia: is it time to add one last member to the "Dream Team"?

Photos by the Associated Press and the Red and Black .


Posted on: February 8, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: February 8, 2011 11:08 am
 

UGA tailback Washaun Ealey suspended

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When you're a starting running back whose team has just signed their highest-profile running back recruit in years and whose coach has already discussed naming said recruit the 2011 opening day starter, it's probably not the best idea to land in hot water with that coach before spring camp even opens. But that hasn't stopped Georgia junior tailback Washaun Ealey from finding himself suspended by Mark Richt for the second time in less than eight months.

With rumors swirling over the past 48 hours, reports this morning have confirmed that Ealey has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities. The suspension reportedly comes after Ealey failed to show for a "punishment run" last week, and Ealey has now confirmed the suspension to the Macon Telegraph's Seth Emerson:



As indicated, Ealey's future status with the team remains undetermined. After first his suspension last August following his arrest for a hit-and-run accident and driving with a suspended license, and then whatever violation of team rules led to the "punishment run" in the first place, it's highly possible Ealey has already run out of strikes.

If he hasn't, the Bulldogs will return their leading rusher of each of the past two seasons and boast one more sturdy (if not overly explosive) option in their efforts to take the pressure off of sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray. If he has, well, there's a reason Richt didn't even wait until after Signing Day lay out such high expectations for Isaiah Crowell, isn't there?

UPDATE: A Georgia official confirms that Ealey is still a member of the Bulldogs .
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com