A lot of people may feel like the pressure was turned up on incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell when Georgia and tailback Washaun Ealey decided to part ways this week. I disagree.
As a five-star prospect and the No. 1-rated running back prospect in America, much already was expected of Crowell. And no matter how you slice it, he’s still a true freshman. He’s going to be given the latitude of the learning curve, at least in the early going. He’s not going to be expected to know everything and to do everything just right.
No, if you ask me the heat has been turned up on Caleb King.
King is the fifth-year senior. By default, he is the incumbent starter at tailback.
As such, King is supposed to have the playbook mastered at this point. He should be as proficient a pass blocker as he is a ball carrier. At 23 years old, he’s supposed to be the mature one, the one who leads the other running backs by example.
Whether King has what it takes to do that is unclear. His UGA career has been in a constant state of interruption between injuries and disciplinary infractions. Just last season he missed three games due to suspension and another two and a half with injuries.
Georgia fans have yet to see what a fully-committed, injury-and-suspension-free King might look like.
But when King has been healthy and available, he’s actually been pretty good. He has averaged over five yards per carry each of the last two seasons, an important statistical indicator in the rough-and-tumble SEC. He averaged 5.2 yards a pop when he rushed for 594 yards as a sophomore and 5.4 while getting only 80 carries last year.
And there were indications this spring that he has finally popped free of controversy.
Asked about Crowell’s impending arrival this summer, King said, “He’s still got to come in and work hard because the rest of us are working hard. We’re all busting our tails. I’m going to try to get him under my wing and go from there.”
As for the events that led to his suspensions, he told reporters, “That will never happen again.”
Coach Mark Richt has already assured us that we’ll likely see much of the ballyhooed Crowell in the season opener. “I wouldn’t be shocked to see him running that rock in the Dome against Boise State on the opening play,” Richt said.
But odds are we’ll see even more of Caleb King.