It’s a frequent question on the blog: Why didn’t Marlon Brown play more last season?
He hears it, too.
“Oh yeah, all the time,” he says. “I either avoid it or just go, like, ‘I don’t know.’”
Brown, of course, signed with UGA as a much-hyped recruit out of Memphis in February 2009, a Parade All-American who was ranked the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation by Scout.com. And then he caught just two passes, both against Tennessee, in extremely limited playing time as a freshman.
The adjustment from a small school (Harding Academy) to SEC football went slower than the recruiting rankings would have suggested, but not necessarily slower than Georgia coaches expected.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Mark Richt said this week. “People have their rankings and expectations because of rankings and all that, but I knew Marlon was going to take a little time to get used to the speed of Southeastern Conference football. He really made great strides.”
By all accounts, the strides continued this spring until Brown was sidelined for a week by an injured left shoulder -– a sprained AC joint.
“I felt bad when he got hurt because he looked so much quicker to me and just a much smoother route runner in the spring than he was in the fall,” Richt said. “I thought he had great improvement, and I think he’s going to really help us a bunch.
“He’s a very physical football player. He’ll block. He’ll get after you. He’s got strong hands. He’s going to help us. I’m really looking forward to seeing him blossom.”
The 6-5, 200-pound Brown returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday, wearing a green non-contact jersey. Georgia didn’t practice Wednesday and holds its 10th of 15 spring sessions this afternoon.
“We were pleased with Marlon’s progress last year and pleased with him early in spring ball,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. The shoulder injury, Bobo said, cost Brown important practice time last week. “Marlon needs this time tremendously. . . . He’s got to be on the field to get better.
“Hopefully he can practice the rest of the way,” Bobo said. “Just get him out there running around, it doesn’t have to be contact, but getting out there running routes and learning how to run routes. Not in a negative way, but he was a lot of times a little bit raw and has to fine-tune his skills and is getting close there and just needs practice.”
Brown said he was “frustrated” by the ill-timed shoulder injury, but if he was frustrated by his quiet freshman season, he never showed it in a negative way.
“All these guys tend to get a little frustrated if they don’t come in and play like a recruiting service or somebody ranks them and thinks they’re going to be instant impacts,” Bobo said. “But that’s just part of the process, going through that.
“And sometimes I think it’s good for those kids to go through that and have a little adversity and learn how to fight and push. Marlon is a kid who has accepted that well. I haven’t seen anything [to indicate] that, hey, this guy is sulking or disappointed. He’s working hard.”