Isaiah Crowell: From recruit to key to Georgia’s season?

Two new Bulldogs: Isaiah Crowell of Georgia and his little pal. (AP photo)

Two young Bulldogs (one human): Isaiah Crowell of Georgia and his little pal. (AP photo)

(Updated with Mark Richt comments.)

ATHENS — Isaiah Crowell just signed his letter of intent to attend Georgia. So is it too early to assume he’s the key to next season? I don’t think so.

Crowell is a 5-star recruit. He’s the nation’s consensus top running back. Highlights and statistics from Carver-Columbus project possible greatness. But we’ve seen too much to assume anything. Most recently, we’ve seen Caleb King, a former 5-star recruit who has been a huge disappointment.

But if Crowell lives up to the hype, he will become something even more important than the best player in Georgia’s recruiting class. He’ll be the most important player on the Bulldogs’ roster next season.

When asked how he sees Crowell contributing, coach Mark Richt said, “Heavily. … 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.”

The Bulldogs have lacked a lot of things lately, but a solid running game tops the list. Poor offensive line play is part of the reason. The other is that the Dogs haven’t found a consistent — or even above-average — replacement for Knowshon Moreno. Last season the team ranked 10th in the SEC in rushing (ahead of only Vanderbilt and Tennessee) and 73rd in the nation. The passing game was fifth in the SEC, 40th in the nation. The onus was on a freshman quarterback, Aaron Murray, and A.J. Green.

King has struggled. Washaun Ealey has been inconsistent and generally a disappointment.

Crowell can make a difference. Great running backs can cover up for deficiencies on a team, particularly on the offensive line. A great running back in college can have at least as big an impact on an offense as a great quarterback. Look what Marcus Lattimore did for South Carolina.

Georgia needs Crowell to be their Lattimore next season. He’ll certainly get the opportunity. Coach Mark Richt is not going to come out with a depth chart Friday that lists Crowell first but the freshman will be given every opportunity to win the starting job.

“I’m gonna be a Dog,” Crowell said after putting on a Georgia hat. For the perfect touch, somebody then handed him a bulldog puppy, and the newest Bulldog held him up in the air.

He was the Dogs’ 25th recruit to sign his letter of intent — and easily the most important one of all.

Earlier posts

Georgia recruiting: Now Richt must turn stars into wins

Georgia recruiting: Waiting on Isaiah Crowell (and normalcy)

As Braves get started, Fredi Gonzalez looks like Cox 2.0

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

321 comments Add your comment

Jimmy

February 2nd, 2011
1:59 pm

Bigggest recruit for UGA since Herschel.

I wouldn’t say King or Ealey struggled, they both averaged over 5 yards a carry.

Hopefully, Bobo will call more running plays this season.

headley lamar

February 2nd, 2011
2:02 pm

Boise State’s last eight recruiting classes ranked 73, 72, 73, 78, 57, 64, 60, 97. The Broncos’ record in the last five years: 61-5 with two BCS bowls.

And when they met on the field UGA crushed Boise St 48-13

If UGA had that schedule they would have been 64-1 over that stretch.

Case Closed.

Bug Zapper

February 2nd, 2011
2:02 pm

I agree Jeff but he will at least need an offensive line as good as Carver’s

Paul H

February 2nd, 2011
2:03 pm

Go Dawgs! Dream Team complete, now time to get to work.

Bull

February 2nd, 2011
2:03 pm

Well that just really puts the damper on Schultz. Let’s see how long it takes Schultz to spin this into something pessimistic…

GO DAWGS

cattledawg

February 2nd, 2011
2:03 pm

This wraps up a good day.

dawg67

February 2nd, 2011
2:04 pm

second! great pickup for dawgs!

SimpleDawg

February 2nd, 2011
2:04 pm

Well let’s see what happens in the fall……

….the proof is in the pudding.

Jimmy

February 2nd, 2011
2:04 pm

Ealey & Crowell will be a tough tandem to stop. Fionally, Grantham, Bobo, Richt, they all have the talent they need.

Given some time, this class will prove it’s worth.

JB

February 2nd, 2011
2:05 pm

Woof! Woof!

HBTD!!!

Bull

February 2nd, 2011
2:05 pm

oh, wait, he already did…throwing out the Caleb King reference. Jasper Sanks will be the next one to reference

Jimmy

February 2nd, 2011
2:05 pm

#4 guy on ESPN 150, what an athlete.

That's Headley

February 2nd, 2011
2:06 pm

Yeah, what he said….

Dawg Fud

February 2nd, 2011
2:08 pm

Kudos to Richt and company. It’s been a while since he could really enjoy something footbal related.

Hummon

February 2nd, 2011
2:10 pm

If you’re into the ESPN rankings, see the first three UGa signees on the 2007 list:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/recruiting/top150prospects/_/class/2007

I want to be psyched about this class, but time has taught me to wait and see.

GTBob

February 2nd, 2011
2:10 pm

Trying to hype him up as the next Marcus Lattimore is pretty unfair to the kid. It’s pretty rare that a running back can make that kind of impact that fast regardless of who they are. He is a great recruit but don’t make him out to be a once in a lifetime recruit. It could mess with his head similar to Harrison Barnes of UNC.

lovemydawgs25

February 2nd, 2011
2:12 pm

Caleb King pack your bags!!! you’re career at Georgia has been a joke!!! There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s the real deal. Watching his highlight tape I automatically think Reggie Bush with his terrific burst and freakish quickness. A GREAT DAY IN BULLDAWG NATION!!! GO DAWGS!!! Signing Isaiah Crowell just saved Mark Richt’s Job.

kyle

February 2nd, 2011
2:12 pm

Even if Crowell doesn’t start, he will add a lot of competition to the RB position and push Ealey to work harder. Great pickup for the Dawgs

Hoops Fan

February 2nd, 2011
2:13 pm

Bozo has to teach him the blocking scheme first!

learn something everyday

February 2nd, 2011
2:13 pm

“the freshman will be given every opportunity to win the starting job in the spring.”

Jeff, you did mean summer right?

Murphy

February 2nd, 2011
2:13 pm

Dont go to sleep on the Malcome kid just yet-He is a bruiser

German Dawgs Fan

February 2nd, 2011
2:14 pm

I would be much more worried about the passing game next year. Green is gone and the Dawgs will need a bunch of younger guys step up big time in order to replace Green’s production. Even more important he was a threat the defense had to fear, right now I dont see anybody on the team who can replace that. Let’s hope we can get back that smashmouth run game we had a couple of years ago…

Andre "Pulpwood" Smith

February 2nd, 2011
2:15 pm

Super Genius Paul Johnson says recruiting doesn’t matter. It’s all about the system, baby.

Frank Lane

February 2nd, 2011
2:15 pm

I am optimistic on all fronts.

Greendawg

February 2nd, 2011
2:15 pm

I think John Jenkins may be as important part of the plan as Crowell

Frank Lane

February 2nd, 2011
2:16 pm

I really like all the speed in this recruiting class.

Herschel Talker

February 2nd, 2011
2:16 pm

Schultzie:

Kudos to Richt for assembling this class for his successor in 2012. He deserves a lot of credit for the hard work in getting this group of studs together. He is still an incompetent boob as a coach, but we all should praise him for the job on this excellent class.

HT

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 2nd, 2011
2:17 pm

if Ealey and King have any heart this will benefit them as much as anyone now they have to work to play hopefully anyway.

RDUCK

February 2nd, 2011
2:17 pm

that’s alot to ask of a true freshman. at Carver, he had a massive O line with many D1 recruits that paved the way for him. he is a very good player, but i haven’t seen anything to make me believe he is Hershal 2.0. if UGA gets a good line coach and develops the players better, then he could be a stud. everyone needs to step back for a second and let this kid fit in at his own pace. BTW… King and Ealey are good backs and Malcome could be a horse for them if utilized the right way. there is enough talent at RB to give Crowell time to get adjusted…

RDUCK

February 2nd, 2011
2:18 pm

agree Greendawg… the Jenkins kid could be the key to the season…

Preston

February 2nd, 2011
2:19 pm

I predict a couple of RB’s will transfer. What do we have, 5 or 6 now? This will definitely light a big fire under King and Ealey’s asses! Step up and produce or sit your asses down and let Crowell and Malcome split carries. Go dawgs!

Tide Rising

February 2nd, 2011
2:19 pm

Crowell to Georgia? I don’t think anyone was surprised by that one. Even most of the bama fans figured he was going to the home state school.

Can he elevate the Georgia program all by himself? Nope. Good back that could be very good but for every Marcus Lattimore there are 10 Caleb Kings. Crowell won’t be a Caleb King but he won’t be a Lattimore either. And no matter how good you are it all starts up front with the O-line and that’s where Georgia seems to be lacking.

Wake-up call

February 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm

Rex

February 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm

Well, the Richt haters will always find reason to doubt…Richt has solidified himself as the greatest recruiter in UGA history and I think the greatest coach in UGA history. For all who are not short-sighted–the evidence for Richt being UGA’s greatest coach is very convincing. The team is rebuilding. Richt needs to win 8 games next year, he will follow with 10 and third year will be in BCS Nat. Champ. game. So glad that UGA brass does not listen to AJC writers or the Richt haters who so often reply. We should be very thankful for CMR.

Wake-up call

February 2nd, 2011
2:21 pm

Sure would like to top this class off with that Jenkins kids…….He is a MAN that can stuff the middle.

Sparticus

February 2nd, 2011
2:21 pm

Crowell will be the man by the 2nd half of Boise St.

Preston

February 2nd, 2011
2:22 pm

German, T. King will be the veteran receiver with Marlon Brown ready to show us why he was so heavily recruited. The receiving unit will be better than expected with these two and some true freshmen surprises. No worries mate!

Ted Striker

February 2nd, 2011
2:22 pm

Kyle — Agree with you that Crowell may motivate Ealey to elevate his game. That might be enough for 2011. Hard for a freshman back to learn pass blocking assignments.

Wake-up call

February 2nd, 2011
2:22 pm

Amen Rex………don’t forget our girlfriend……Tarkenton!!!

hugedawgfan

February 2nd, 2011
2:23 pm

don’t forget KEN MALCOME he will start the end.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UGA Advocate

February 2nd, 2011
2:23 pm

Lets go BABEEEE,
I told y’all….our program is headed back to prominence. Gotta love the DAWGS !!

D A DoubleU G

February 2nd, 2011
2:23 pm

Now that the LOI has been signed, the butt-kissing stops NOW.

Isaiah Crowell has a date to puke in the weight room a few times and carry Washaun Ealey’s jockstrap to and from practice this summer.

Welcome to Athens, Isaiah. But the work starts NOW. You are nothing more than a 4th string RB as of today. It’s up to you to prove otherwise.

GO DAWGS!!!!

Some ole same ole

February 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

Yes we heard the same hype about Stanks, Lumpkin, Ware, Bum legged King and fumblitis Ealey. Call me win UGA wins anything of significance.

clawdawg

February 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

German Dawgs Fan I agree with you that the passing game without AJ will slide, but remember we didnt have him for 4 games. We dont need an AJ, although that would be nice, we need T King, Marlon Brown, and Rontavious Wooten to step up and play as good as Micheal Johnson or Fred Gibson. If teams dont fear Orson Charles next year they will pay dearly(IE Leonard Pope). With Crowell comming in, we will have a true every down back, with Murrays ability to run, short yardage wont be an issue any more. The Defense really needs John Jenkins to sign on Saturday. If we have Jenkins at nose, Ray Drew at WLB, Boykin and Smith in the secondary, we could get scary good real fast.

Preston

February 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

Wake, you got that right! Jenkins will be the icing on the cake for this class! UGA just went from mediocre (at best) to awesome with these guys!

Josh Smith For 3

February 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

Huge pickup for UGA, as well as an incredibly successful signing day. John Jenkins would be the cherry on top, hopefully UGA’s version of Terrence Cody.

Mark My Words...

February 2nd, 2011
2:25 pm

Crowell is the most overrated recruit this year… he will be a big disappointment… I know this wont be popular for anyone on this blog… but mark my words…

Vance Duly

February 2nd, 2011
2:26 pm

Now, hopefully, we can find a way to “coach up” our underperforming offensive line. Also, perhaps Coach Bobo will come up with a few creative running plays instead of the same 2 or 3 that we always use. Less predictability would be nice! As Confucius once said, “Man who stubbornly runs Carlton Thomas up the middle is man who deserves 3rd & 10.” ….Go DAWGS!!

Herschel Talker (Tranvestite Tech Fan)

February 2nd, 2011
2:26 pm

I bitch because i’m a bitch..CMR is a christian and opposes Gay marriage. This made my boyfriend Stan mad

Nick Fairley

February 2nd, 2011
2:26 pm

Well, goes to show, given the way he handled himself and the school he chose, he is bound to amount to nothing at a school that won’t even keep their coach after this year.

By the way ESPN has it’s recruiting rankings out.

1. FSU
2. Auburn
3. Alabama
4. USC
5. Texas
6. Georgia
7. Florida
8. OU
9. Ohio St
10. Clemson

So, looks like UGA didn’t come close to the defending national champions, Auburn for those of you who suffer from grade inflation, nor Alabama.

It’s a nice number, being number 6, but it will not amount to anything just like every year before.

It may be a day for hope but if I were a Georgia fan I’d keep my change. :D