ATHENS — For the last three months there has been a lot of talk about Isaiah Crowell the person and the high-profile recruit. But over the last four days, Georgia has been able to get a close look at Crowell as a football player and early reports are the Bulldogs like what they’re seeing.
Crowell’s energy and focus, running backs coach Bryan McClendon said, have reminded him what drew the Bulldogs to recruit Crowell in the first place.
“I went to a practice, it may have been his sophomore year in high school, and I saw then how much he loved just to practice,” McClendon said of Crowell, then at Carver High..”He’s out there clapping and being excited about playing and having fun just going out there and playing football. That’s one of the things that excited me the most, to see a guy that talented that didn’t take practice for granted. He goes out there and he wants to get better.
“He’s been the same way out here. He’s focusing on getting better, focusing on every rep. He’ll come to me and ask, ‘what can I do to get a little bit better.’ That was the biggest thing. I thought, ‘this guy has what it takes to be something.’”
Georgia just completed the fourth of 29 preseason practice opportunities on Sunday. But McCelndon has seen enough to know that Crowell is back in the environment he enjoys most.
“He’s just a great humble kid who wants to be good in football,” McClendon said. “And that’s what he’s doing. He’s doing everything he can to make sure he’s doing that. He’s doing a good job of studying. He’s doing a good job of learning it. That stuff comes pretty quick to him. And that happens when you have a guy that, one, wants to be as good as he wants to be; and, two, and is serious about football. Football is serious to that kid.”
As for Crowell’s on-field abilities, teammates say his speed and quickness is apparent and he has exceptional cutting ability. But coaches are reserving their comments until they get a look at him in full pads. That begins Monday.
Hutson Mason solid at No. 2 QB
Everybody knows Aaron Murray is solid as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 quarterback and it appears Hutson Mason is equally entrenched as the No. 2 guy, at least in the early going. Christian LeMay, a signee who enrolled in January, is still grappling with the playbook.
“You see his athletic ability and flashes of what a good quarterback he can be,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “But right now he’s still trying to get a handle on everything, especially during these first acclamation days. We’re installing the whole playbook and we’re throwing a lot at him. He’s running everything we’re installing. Once we get out of acclamation we’ll script more what we’re going to do when he’s in there and it will be more about what he knows and what suits him. I think you’ll see him start to improve tremendously then.”
Andrews, Dantzler emerge on O-line
With just five experienced offensive linemen to put on the field, Georgia is obviously looking to young players to provide depth. And in the early going, it appears the first two freshmen to emerge are David Andrews and Watts Dantzler.
Andrews (6-foot-2, 280 pounds), a signee from The Wesleyan School in Norcross, is now the No. 2 center. Dantzler (6-7, 310), from Dalton, is getting work at both guard and tackle and looks poised to work his way into the rotation.
“We haven’t been out here a week, but I think the guys that have played the best so far are Andrews and Dantzler,” line coach Will Friend said. “They’re probably a little ahead of the new guys. But we’ve had four days and their heads are spinning. I’ve seen some good things in the whole group, but those two have done some good things.”
Sanders working at CB
Chris Sanders was considered one of the best safeties in the state when he signed with Georgia out of Tucker High. But the Bulldogs are finding out how good of a cornerback he can be.
“We’ve talked about that really since we signed him, that potentially he might be a guy we could look at at corner,” secondary coach Scott Lakatos said. “Size-wise he looked pretty good there, movement wise. He might be able to help us from a depth standpoint. He’s physical enough, he plays hard, he’s quick. He could be a guy who could be a safety as well. Athletically he could be either-or.”
The emergence of Sanders and other freshmen such as Damian Swann at cornerback have enabled the Bulldogs to give serious consideration to moving Sanders Commings back to safety. Commings is working at both spots but more lately at safety.
Some might say Lakatos has benefited most from the Bulldogs’ “Dream Team” recruiting class. He landed Sanders, Swann, Nick Marshall, Devin Bowman, Corey Moore and Quintavious Harris out of the deal.
“They’re athletes,” Lakatos said. “We knew all those guys when we took them were very good athletes. We knew they were offensive guys, defensive guys, receivers, returners, quarterbacks, DBs, they played safety, they played corner, they were good at other sports, whether it’s baseball or basketball or track. We knew that. Now we’ve just got to find a spot for them. We’ll put them out there and let them play.”
NG Geathers ahead of Jenkins
It sounds like defensive line coach Rodney Garner would at this point give the edge to Kwame Geathers over John Jenkins in the competition at nose guard.
“Kwame is definitely continuing to pick up where he left off this spring,” Garner said Sunday. “We’ve got to get Jenkins to keep coming and get him more up to speed. I feel really good about the 1s and I think the two ends [DeAngelo Tyson and Abry Jones] have really elevated their games to another level. Kwame’s continuing to improve we have to continue building depth.”
The Bulldogs practiced for two hours in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) Sunday in intermittent rain. Monday represents the first of 11 full-contact practices (including three scrimmages). The objective of this first one? “I want to see who will strike somebody, who won’t flinch,” Bobo said. “That’s the biggest thing.”