ESPN says Isaiah Crowell not among SEC’s top 10 backs

Isaiah Crowell's shadow looms large in the SEC next season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Isaiah Crowell's shadow looms large in the SEC next season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Possible unrealistic expectations notwithstanding, we’ve noted several times that incoming Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell could have the greatest impact of any player on the Bulldogs next season. ESPN’s Chris Low echoed that sentiment when he told me on Wednesday, “If Crowell can have three-quarters of  the impact that Marcus Lattimore had at South Carolina, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Georgia playing in Atlanta for the SEC championship.”

But here’s what Low didn’t do: Name Crowell one of the 10 best running backs in the SEC.

ESPN’s SEC blogger just came out with his list of the 10 best backs in the conference, and Crowell, the jewel of the Dogs’ incoming class, didn’t make the cut.

When I asked Low about it, he laughed.

“I have him at 10A,” he said.

He said he struggled with the rankings because of the SEC’s depth of talent at running back and considered five players for the last three spots: Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb, Florida’s Chris Rainey, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, Florida’s Jeffery Demps and Crowell. Demps also was left off.

For what it’s worth, Low recently came out with his list of the SEC’s 10 best quarterbacks and Georgia’s Aaron Murray led the way.

So what are you thoughts on the Crowell being left off? Should we expect greatness right away? Following is Low’s projected top 10:

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama, Jr.: Now we get to see Richardson as Alabama’s go-to back, and it should be something to see. He’s a freak physically and runs through defenders and around them in equally stunning fashion.

2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, So.: I’m sure we’ll hear it from South Carolina fans for not having Lattimore in the No. 1 spot. The truth is that it could go either way. Lattimore has bulked up to 230 pounds, which should help his durability.

3. Knile Davis, Arkansas, Jr.: To have a guy coming off a 1,322-yard season No. 3 on this list tells you how good the running backs are in this league. What separates Davis is that he can get the tough yards and also has the speed to break the long ones.

4. Mike Dyer, Auburn, So.: The Offensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game a year ago, Dyer will be even better as a sophomore. He’s hard to tackle, runs low to the ground and will be the centerpiece of Auburn’s offense in 2011.

5. Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss, Sr.: In just about any other league, Bolden would be right there at the top. He averaged 6 yards per carry last season and scored 17 touchdowns. He’s also one of the best pass-catching backs in the SEC.

6. Spencer Ware, LSU, So.: The LSU coaches can’t wait to turn Ware loose this coming season. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound sophomore showed off his electrifying moves in the Cotton Bowl last season and will show off even more of them in 2011.

7. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State, Sr.: Nobody knew much about Ballard this time a year ago. They do now after he rushed for 968 yards and 19 touchdowns in his debut season in Starkville after coming over from junior college.

8. Onterio McCalebb, Auburn, Jr.: One of the premier home-run threats in college football, McCalebb is a quick-strike touchdown waiting to happen. Just ask LSU from a year ago. McCalebb has also bulked up and is more durable than he was when he arrived on the Plains.

9. Chris Rainey, Florida, Sr.: When he returned from his suspension last season, Rainey was the Gators’ top playmaker. Charlie Weis will see to it that Rainey gets touches as both a runner and receiver, and when he gets a step, look out.

10. Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Sr.: He’s not a burner, and he’s not exceptionally big, but Poole runs with his heart on his sleeve. He rushed for 1,034 yards last season and tied for the SEC lead with six 100-yard games.

Looking forward to the debate on this.

By Jeff Schultz

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

251 comments Add your comment

Eddie

June 15th, 2011
6:40 pm

Of course he should be left out … can’t be one of the top 10 backs in the SEC if he has yet to play in the SEC. Not a slight from Low, just a fact.

Eddie

June 15th, 2011
6:40 pm

Just give it a season … I suspect he’ll be in the top 3 the following season!

Matt

June 15th, 2011
6:41 pm

You can’t have a great runningback until you have a decent O-Line. If our O-Line is consistent and can protect the rusher, then yes…..Crowell should make the list.

Running game depends on the O-LINE. THAT is the BIGGEST question!

P-Man

June 15th, 2011
6:42 pm

J.J.M.

June 15th, 2011
6:43 pm

I agree he hasnt even played a down yet

P-Man

June 15th, 2011
6:44 pm

Darn! Too slow. That’s ok. They probably wouldn’t have put Herscel in the top 10 coming in either. Doesn’t matter. He’ll either be great or he won’t. Dawgs will be fine.

Dawg_Mike

June 15th, 2011
6:44 pm

Show me this list after the season…not before. yawn.

Worm

June 15th, 2011
6:47 pm

Hopefully he’s in the top 5 at seasons end…We don’t need him to be great, just alot better than average..If he can blitz pick-up, he’ll play.

Jeff Schultz

June 15th, 2011
6:47 pm

It’s worth noting that Low went out of his way in the blog (which you can click on the link) that freshmen and incoming players are being considered in all of these rankings. I can see the arguments on both sides.

icallbs

June 15th, 2011
6:55 pm

He hasn’t played a down. Good, bad, mediocre – at this point it is a wild a*** guess. Certainly makes for a riveting blog article. Writers block?

jbd

June 15th, 2011
6:56 pm

I don’t blame Low. As an avid Dawg fan, I wouldn’t put him on the list either. I was highly disappointed with the end of his season and the all-star game. I do, however, hope for the best.

bamaguy

June 15th, 2011
6:59 pm

If you don’t think the O line makes a difference, just look at Mark Ingram’s junior season as compared to his Heisman-winning season.

JAWJeRDAWG

June 15th, 2011
7:00 pm

It’s all subjective now. The most important ‘rating’ will be at the end of the season after the games have been played.

If the OL holds up and Isaiah plays up to his expectations, I expect him to move up on that impact value list. .. Go Dawgs!

Delbert D.

June 15th, 2011
7:00 pm

Those 10 guys are pretty good. Crowell will have to develop for playing time early in the year with limitations on the playbook when he is in.

Danny G

June 15th, 2011
7:04 pm

Walker did not start his Freshman year until a few games were played. You don’t know what you got until the man runs threw or around a tackler time after time after time and only time will tell.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 15th, 2011
7:07 pm

He is essentially right where every incoming Freshman running back in the SEC should be. The SEC should have an abundance of talent at the postions when you figure the schools within the conference. Also I like the low ranking for him for a motivating tool aswell.

tenn.DAWG

June 15th, 2011
7:08 pm

Low is a big time utk sheep, but nobody could proclaim Crowell anything other than a SEC rookie.In this league high school accolades mean nothing.

D Fence

June 15th, 2011
7:12 pm

Any idea if had Lattimore was in his top 10 last year?

Either way, Crowell is a major playmaker with power and speed. Lets just hope he can pass block.

82Dawg

June 15th, 2011
7:12 pm

Until he proves what he can do. He should be left off….

Larry

June 15th, 2011
7:22 pm

Not a single RB on the list is a freshman, proving there is no basis to rank a kid that’s never taken a snap in the SEC…what’s the point here?

Perhaps a better ranking is that of all incoming freshman at their respective positions!

Whew!

Big

June 15th, 2011
7:27 pm

Dream team baloney. Go look at ga’s previous recruiting rankings since 02. They had 3 years where they were better than 2011 and another 3 years where they equaled what they did this year. This dream team garbage is nothing but kool aid for you idiot ga fans and media to pine over. They should put mark richt on the packet of koolaid sold in georgia.

Stooper

June 15th, 2011
7:29 pm

Just wait til those big bad sec defensive lineman and linebackers show IC what it’s like to play big biy football. He will have 10 fumbles in just his sec games.

JB

June 15th, 2011
7:33 pm

I’m a big Dawgs fan and to his being left off, I say, duh!

He’s not set foot on a college field yet. How can you rank him in the top 10?

HBTD!!!

confusadog

June 15th, 2011
7:34 pm

Let’s get real. If he shows inconsistency at pass blocking, he probably won’t play much. We’ve seen this before……..

Caleb King

June 15th, 2011
7:55 pm

Where am I on this list?

Jeff Schultz

June 15th, 2011
7:56 pm

Caleb — I’m sure you were No. 11.

RabidDawgFan

June 15th, 2011
7:57 pm

And this is big news? He’s a freakin freshman for crying out loud. I could see it being big news if he was in his 4th year like CALEB KING and not in the top 10. But he hasn’t played yet. What do you expect? Idiot.

Beast from the East

June 15th, 2011
8:00 pm

Hard to judge anyone that has never played a down of college ball. He may be awesome or he may be a bust. We’ve seen many 5* recruits turn out both ways over the years. Only time will tell.

We Own You

June 15th, 2011
8:04 pm

Herschel wasn’t even on the top three in GEORGIA’S depth chart before his first game…it would be a travesty to list a guy who has never stepped on a college field among the premiere players….let him prove his worth and he’ll get plenty of accolades….that’s part of the problem with college football today….

Worm

June 15th, 2011
8:14 pm

First scrimmage, You run him up the middle and tell em’ not to block John Jenkins-Then, you’ll see what ya’ got!

JDawg1785

June 15th, 2011
8:15 pm

I read this on ESPN earlier and wasn’t surprised at all. Why would they put a kid who hasn’t touched an NCAA football on a list like this? Isaiah knows he has to earn respect and I’m hoping he does!

Ryan

June 15th, 2011
8:17 pm

This is shocking, I thought he had already won the Heisman based on the AJC’s coverage.

RabidDawgFan

June 15th, 2011
8:18 pm

Worm, that might not be a good idea lol. Don’t wanna get the kid hurt before he gets a chance to play against Boise.

OtisTheDrunk

June 15th, 2011
8:20 pm

What a stupid column to even mention Crowe’s name as your discussion point of your column when Low was ranking EXPERIENCED SEC players…not incoming freshman!!! Go back to Low and ask him to rank the Top 10 INCOMING backs in the SEC…then you’ll have a story. This is apples and oranges.

Just cuz Low “went out of his way to say freshmen and incoming were being considered” doesn’t mean he really meant it (and truly considered them) and therefore, if I was the journalist I wouldn’t have even jumped on the poll and tried to “make a story” out of Crowell not being in it. YOU are better than this Schultz!

Schultz is a JOKE

June 15th, 2011
8:20 pm

Of course Crowell was left off the list. He has not played a down of college football. This is such a non-story and plain silly. Schultz, you are really reaching here. You should give back your pay to the AJC for this piece. Quit stealing from your employer.

Vain Jangling

June 15th, 2011
8:22 pm

Doesn’t that Walker kid from down in Johnson County still owe UGA a year of eligibility?

BAMA dude

June 15th, 2011
8:25 pm

According to Rivals, Crowell isn’t even the best incoming freshman RB in the conference. That distinction belongs to #1 RB prospect Dee Hart of Alabama.

GeoffDawg

June 15th, 2011
8:40 pm

Complete non-issue. I’d have more of a problem with him over-hyping Crowell by naming him a top ten back having never played a down or even gone through a practice scrimmage.

Yellow Fuzz Dawg

June 15th, 2011
8:44 pm

Shoot, I had him ranked # 1 in SEC, Heisman trophy winner as soph. number 1 draft pick in NFL as a Junior, Pro Bowl selection when he would have been a Senior and in the NFL Hall of Fame before age 30. I guess that’s what happens when real people make predictions instead of us rabbid dog fans. GO DOWN DOGS HUNKER…..something like that.

Worm

June 15th, 2011
8:48 pm

@Rabid, Dooley ran Herschel up the middle three times in a row and didn’t block “Meat Cleaver” Weaver…Herschel took the punishment and never said a word.

Let NONE in

June 15th, 2011
8:55 pm

Given his stats so far is that really surprising.

Ranger

June 15th, 2011
8:56 pm

Crowell won’t put up big numbers at Georgia, no one does at running back except rare exceptions like Moreno & Musa & Herschel. Richt’s only had 2 backs go for 1000+ in 1 season. Richt uses an ineffective platoon system, 10th n SEC last year, gets 100 yards against teams with winning records, 11th in SEC there.

Richt rotates his best most productive back, with 4 non-productive players. Crowell will likely end up the #2 rusher in 2011, behind King, who’ll put up Ealey type of yards, 700-800 yards on 150 carries, getting most of the carries due to experience. Crowell will maybe go for 500 yards at best. They’re not enough carries to go around for Crowell to get 1000 yards, he’ll need to share carries with King, Malcome, Thomas, and Murray (murray got 2nd most carries last year).

So Low is right.

Let NONE in

June 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

Rainey has the #1 most arrests.

Eddie

June 15th, 2011
8:58 pm

And no kudos for being first (and second, btw)

War Eagle

June 15th, 2011
9:06 pm

I guess Auburn is cheating because they have 2 RB in the top ten…How can a player be recognized as a top SEC back when he never played a down..UGA hope he`s not another King,Easley etc???

Reaper

June 15th, 2011
9:10 pm

Of course he should have been left off. He has to produce first in order to make a name for himself and then there is that awful UGA OL. If they perform well, the whole offense will have a great season.

War Eagle

June 15th, 2011
9:11 pm

Dee Hart is a worm, can`t wear Crowell jock, hate to say that since REC bama(Bank), paid a bank loan off for him.. He was Michigan bound

Jon

June 15th, 2011
9:11 pm

Dyer should be ahead of Lattimore You can’t be paying attention if you don’t look at the impact he had in the National Championship game.

Join the club

June 15th, 2011
9:15 pm

As we’ve heard before Crowell the second coming of Herschel Walker only to bust like Ealey and King.

whatthedawg

June 15th, 2011
9:17 pm

I have no problem with Crowell not be ranked yet. Who cares? He hasn’t even played a down yet. Now after the season is over, that is much more important. If he can crack the top 5, then we’re going to have a decent year.