As some turn on Crowell, Marshall becomes next great thing

Isaiah Crowell was often dazzling when he played, here rushing for 132 yards against Auburn. (Brant Sanderlin)

Isaiah Crowell dazzled when healthy, rushing for 132 yards against Auburn. (Brant Sanderlin)

(UPDATED: 4:30 p.m.)

Just 10 months ago, Isaiah Crowell was the star of this strange and creepy obsession we call college football recruiting. He put on a Georgia hat. He raised a bulldog puppy up in the air with an ear-to-ear smile. He was all but designated the next savior of Athens, a running back of immense talents who would help turn around a sinking program and maybe help the Bulldogs to an SEC title, or three.

With his first season not yet complete, Crowell is something less than that, at least in terms of perceptions.

On Monday, the Associated Press designated Crowell as the SEC’s freshman of the year. He rushed for 847 yards and five touchdowns, despite playing in really only nine full games. He is, all baggage notwithstanding, one significant reason Georgia has won 10 games this season. But the honor was not universally embraced by Bulldog fans, many of whom referenced Crowell’s injuries, drug suspension and rumors of him being a discipline problem in comments on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They believed wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was more deserving.

This all strangely dovetailed into Tuesday, when the Dogs landed the nation’s most sought-after running back (again), Keith Marshall of Raleigh, N.C. A segment of the same fan base that did everything short of bow at Crowell’s feet now is doing the same for Marshall, while hoping Crowell transfers or is thrown off campus.

What gets lost in all of this is that we’re talking about 18-year-old kids.

Crowell held a bulldog puppy at his announcement.

Isaiah Crowell held up a puppy at his news conference.

I’m not going to get into whether this is fair or unfair. Certainly, Crowell has maturity issues. He deserved criticism for the failed drug test. I’m among those who mocked him over the reported marijuana use during the season. He was suspended for one game and benched for the start of another (for undisclosed reasons). He was frequently injured — and never given the benefit of the doubt when it came to his pain threshold.

There were boos in the Georgia Dome when Crowell kept taking

Keith Marshall is next touted running back headed to Athens.

Keith Marshall is next touted running back headed to Athens. (247sports.com)

himself out of the SEC championship game against LSU because of an ankle injury. Boos. That’s how far his star has fallen. If another player was trying to play through the pain of an injury, he would’ve been celebrated for trying to gut it out. But some now view Crowell as soft, a malingerer, a problem child.

The oversize, mutant stage of college recruiting creates this. Fans and media obsess over the decisions of teenagers. It’s non-stop pampering. There’s an automatic expectation that those who’ve seldom been subjected to criticism, let alone carry a major college football program, will be able to handle growing up in a spotlight. But it doesn’t always work that way.

During Crowell’s official visit to Georgia, coach Mark Richt went to the extent of lining up “players” in an offensive set, leaving the tailback spot vacant for him to see. (It was a brilliant recruiting device, except that it turned out to be a NCAA secondary violation.). But that same Richt was non-committal Monday about who his starter will be in the Outback Bowl.

There are a blur of unconfirmed rumors about Crowell. Nobody is certain if he even wants to come back. He certainly didn’t look like the happiest kid after the SEC game, and seemingly not just because Georgia lost.

I’m not deluded enough into thinking that college athletes should be shielded from criticism. But a little more perspective is in order. Crowell obviously has maturity and discipline issues, but he hasn’t exactly been an abject failure.

Are we so completely lost that we can’t even wait to see if a young man matures when he hits 19 or 20?

It’s possible Marshall will live up to expectations. He came off as a bright and level-headed young man at his announcement Tuesday, when he donned a red Georgia hat with a white “G” on it. He  has a 4.29 grade point average. He plans to enroll at UGA in January.

But what if Marshall doesn’t live up to expectations? Georgia hasn’t had the best record when it comes to hyped running back recruits. Do we build up the next guy and lobby for Marshall’s exit? Is the SEC just too important to wait?

Some perspective, please.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

1,264 comments Add your comment

Who Knew?????

December 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

@kj52 You serious????

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

I don’t buy the explanation, selling your house, and not signing an extentsion, and multiple rumors Richt is interviewing elsewhere. something looks fishy.

Spanky Monkey

December 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

Crowell does not impress me. Samuel & Harton run harder with the ball then he does.

oklahoma dawg

December 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

GGCoolD-

U must be trying to start fires. That article is from May 2011. KM is coming to UGA, so go home Clemson fan

dawggirl

December 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

If you believe those rumors, frankly that doesn’t speak much for your intelligence.

Obsessed with Bama

December 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

Gbal at least has some sense. And haven’t we already seen what a “high-flying” offense will do to LSU? (Oregon)

gbal

December 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

Harold — WORD IS???? And who did you get that WORD from?

trollboy for dawggirl

December 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

It is official! IC just tweeted “I am outta here biotches!”

savannahdawg

December 6th, 2011
1:43 pm

If he wasn’t acting like a Caleb King Jr., maybe the hostilities wouldn’t be starting so early. Too many running backs with problems on this team. When does it stop? It is not just about Crowel, it’s all the crap the last couple of years with the running backs in general. Not healthy, always hurt, bad grades, drug issues, stupid decisions, blah, blah, blah.

As a fan, I would like to see a young man at running back who has his head screwed on straight! Haven’t seen that in some time now.

I have seen enough of talented kids with no character!!!!

Once again Jeff……………you fail to tell the entire story.

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:44 pm

Apparently, Richt is at the top of the list for the Penn State job, and high on Texas A & M’s wish list.

Real Sports

December 6th, 2011
1:44 pm

I heard the same thing….IC is gone.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 6th, 2011
1:44 pm

Richt isnt going any where

Where is he going to go that will allow him to make $30 million by just winning 10 games and lose to your main rival FL every year

Come on

Topp Dogg

December 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Cut that hair and grow up IC because true UGA fans are all in.

Who Knew?????

December 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Enough with the rumors……. Is the guy really leaving???????

Jeff Schultz

December 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Trojan — That’s your perception. Obviously this wasn’t an overnight thing.

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

I hope the rampant rumors about Richt interviewing elsewhere are not true, but since he put his home up for sale, and he will not sign an extension, I’m no dummy.

Gorilla Biscuit

December 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Shouldn’t you Techmites be on Saguira’s blog trying to figure out what’s wrong with your woeful program?

NO Defense
NO Passing game
NO Depth
Al Groh

mayrettabengal

December 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

great point. Lmao. Especially since marky marks players lead the NCAA in arrests since he took over the program. He will kick the back up punter off of the team for parking tickets but he doesn’t “give up” on the talented players for their transgressions. Lol

Misty From Macon

December 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

OMG! I think the world is coming to an end!! I actually agree with Schultz!!

People — please put things into perspective. Half of you on this blog couldn’t even get a starting position in a Pop Warner game; and the other half wasn’t smart enough to finish get into college; yet you’re on this board dumping on an 18 year old kid!!??!!

I wonder what type of people YOU were at 18? I bet half of you were drunk and disorderly while the other half were humping anything that looked even remotely like the opposite sex so that you could loose your virginity before you turned 18 1/2. How quickly you old fuglies forget what it was like to be young!

You sit there, on your computers, with the benefit of hindsight (and probably a few hangovers), and annonymity and judge an eighteen year old kid as if he was an old warthog like you guys!! I wonder, if I could contact your parents, what they’d say about YOU when you were 18?

You guys are Priceless!!!

Who Knew?????

December 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

HireKirbySmart.com

trollboy for dawggirl

December 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

He apparently has changed his mind! Just got word that IC is going to stay now. Thank God!!!

okiedokiedawg

December 6th, 2011
1:47 pm

Well now for some good news, it looks like they got the internet service turned back on at the state nut house today.

evil empire

December 6th, 2011
1:47 pm

Richt to the SEC west??? TAMU is a sleeping giant…step up from UGA…but…in same division as Miles, Saban, Chizik, Petrino… thats tough sledding…

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:47 pm

There’s a discussion on Scout that Richt is interviewing with Texas A & M today.

phil

December 6th, 2011
1:48 pm

Niner Fan

December 6th, 2011
10:22 am
It’s ridiculous to boo a kid. I had people around me in the GA Dome doing that and it pissed me off. He’s hurt you idiots. He’s made some mistakes but he’s a kid. Did you not do the same thing when you were a freshman?

He was trying to gut it out in a huge game but it didn’t work. You have to give him props for that. True UGA fans will.

Don’t listen to the lunatic fringe, they are fair weather fans.

Marshall and Crowell together sounds good to me.
***********************
Bull. 100% bull….

I was among those who booed and booed loudly and felt it was well deserved.

We pay outrageous sums of money and now put up with porta potties on campus on gamedays for a bathroom.

You, Mr. Schultz, do not.

If we want to boo, then we’re going to boo and you guys can just not like it.

These players are pampered, given a chance to earn a degree, spoiled rotten, etc. We greatly appreciate the effort out all of them, but not so much so when it’s combined with academic ineptitude, drug use and whining. When such is the case, expect boos.

Otherwise, if we fans who pay the bills had any sense, we’d stay the heck away.

Jona

December 6th, 2011
1:48 pm

Those of us who have teenagers know that no matter how hard you try to avoid it, kids will do stupid things sometimes. Some mature slower than others. I’m not giving up on the kid. I’m hoping this first year has been a learning experience and that he and Marshall will be alternating in the backfield next season.

kj52

December 6th, 2011
1:48 pm

I was an all star in pop warner football

Nick Saban

December 6th, 2011
1:49 pm

Richt interviewing the A and M….ROTFLMAO. No one in their right mind thinks that guy can coach. Its why he’s never been offered a job anywhere else.

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:49 pm

You know me

December 6th, 2011
1:50 pm

Was listening to the 2 Live Stews and a caller said it best. He’s a kid who needs to mature. Being under Mark Richt will allow him to do just that, mature and grow into a man. You wouldn’t give up on your child; so why give up on this young man. Think about it.

Prince

December 6th, 2011
1:50 pm

ESPNU just announced that Herschel Walker has one more year of college eligibility and is considering between UGA and BAMA! God I hope he chooses UGA!! what do y’all think?

Who Knew?????

December 6th, 2011
1:50 pm

Richt to SEC west??????? Bill Belichick

Give that Dawg a Bong

December 6th, 2011
1:50 pm

Mark Richt says to Crowell, If you wanna get high… Get high on Jesus!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 6th, 2011
1:51 pm

Misty from Macon

Yea and I bet your the first one at the bar when they open; drinking your blues away until its time to go to work again

There are some people on here who remember a time when kids acted right and were thankful instead of being undisciplined and unthankful for everything.

We start off by thinking Dr. Spock how to raise your child

DantheDawgFan

December 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

Beging a BIG Dawg fan I’ll right out and say it… most Dawg fans are dumbarses.

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

I have confirmed from President Adams that Richt has NOT signed a contract extension with Georgia.

http://redandblack.com/2011/11/30/adams-not-ready-to-comment-on-richt-extension-predicts-bulldog-win-over-lsu/

evil empire

December 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

the 2 live stews…really??? so you are their listener…congrats…

phil

December 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

If there’s any truth at all to these Richt rumors, punt his sorry butt to the curb and let’s move on…

If true, he’s just as much of a liar as any of the rest of these coaches that will say anything and do the opposite days later.

Bubba from Unadilla

December 6th, 2011
1:52 pm

Meesty…I likes you.

Chicago Dawg

December 6th, 2011
1:54 pm

Richt thought it was hard to beat FLA, another name for the SEC west is Gorilla Warfare…… SMH He doesn’t want that…..

Robert

December 6th, 2011
1:55 pm

Evansdawg

December 6th, 2011
1:55 pm

Hey, Dummies…Richt hasn’t been given a contract to sign…and his house that he sold was a vacation home. Richt takes pride in what he tells our recruits, he’s going no where. These are the wishes and rumours of the VERY DESPARATE Tech fans. Forget it.

GGCoolD

December 6th, 2011
1:56 pm

Gamingtoday, a very good journalist, says Richt will NOT return as coach in 2012 at Georgia.

http://www.gamingtoday.com/articles/article/33523-Georgia_football_coach_Mark_Richt_will_leave_at_end_of_season

Jeff Schultz

December 6th, 2011
1:56 pm

Esteban — thanks.

TexasDawg

December 6th, 2011
1:56 pm

There are 17/18/19 year old kids sitting in hellholes all over the world, clutching M4’s, calling in artillery, air-strikes, choppers, administering first-aid to a wounded buddy, etc., etc., etc. But we need to cut IC some slack because he’s “only a freshman.” Well EXCUSE ME.

Yep, all he has to worry about is hitting the cronic, ignoring the head coach on national TV, getting a personal foul even though he wasn’t on the field, and keeping that free-ride scholarship, lots more important than having to worry about staying alive and such.

And congrats on SEC Freshman of the Year, you deserve it, I’m sure.

Chicago Dawg

December 6th, 2011
1:56 pm

Is that you Isaiah??????? Does the Wizard of Oz also give common sense????? no matter what your age is…..

Troll Power Ratings

December 6th, 2011
1:57 pm

@Nick Saban: Time for another Red Bull and pack of Skittles.

secbama

December 6th, 2011
1:57 pm

Isaiah, transfer to Bama…sit out one year and get stronger in weight room and come win Heisman in 2013 in Nick-Land.

Misty From Macon

December 6th, 2011
1:57 pm

As a fan, I would like to see a young man at running back who has his head screwed on straight! Haven’t seen that in some time now.

“We’ve got enough choirboys on the team, now we need some football players.” – Univ. Of Oklahoma Football Player 1979

tidog

December 6th, 2011
1:58 pm

@ Isaiah Arm chair SEC running backs never had a injury they couldn’t play through in their living room.