ATHENS – Georgia’s game against Boise State on Saturday will command attention from a lot of places, but none more than Columbus.
Five players from the southwest Georgia bordertown will represent the Bulldogs during Saturday’s game, four of them with Carver High connections. Three of those guys – tailback Isaiah Crowell, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and tight end Bruce Figgins – could end up starting in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Saturday the Georgia Dome.
Freshman defensive back Quintavious Harrow and walkon quarterback Greg Bingham are also from Columbus.
Needless to say, the Bulldogs are a hot topic this week at Carver.
“The whole school’s excited, not just that they’re playing well but because they’re that doing well,” Carver High principal Christopher Lindsey said. “Especially considering the difficult backgrounds some of them they came from. Jarvis, if you look at his background, his path to success is truly amazing. The way he acts, the way he carries himself, you would never know what he has had to overcome. We’ve really enjoyed watching them come into their own at Georgia.”
Figgins and Jones are definite starters as of Tuesday. Figgins, a fifth-year senior, heads into the game as the No. 1 fullback after playing his first four seasons at tight end. He’s a Shaw graduate but his father, Bruce Figgins Sr., works at Carver as a math teacher. Jones, a sophomore transfer from Southern Cal, will start at “Sam, or strongside outside linebacker, where he has shined in preseason camp.
Crowell, a freshman and the No. 1-rated high school running back prospect in America last year, is currently listed as the No. 2 tailback. But head coach Mark Richt admitted Tuesday that Crowell could end up getting the nod since No. 1 tailback Richard Samuel has been sidelined with a quadriceps injury most of the last two weeks.
“He could,” Richt said of Crowell possibly starting. “The longer Richard doesn’t go. . . it may be that Isaiah gets the nod. Either him or Richard would. It’ll just depend on what Richard can do here in the next couple of days. I think if Richard doesn’t practice in the next day or two, it might be that Isaiah gets the chance to be the starter. So it could be that we have three kids starting from Columbus.”
Samuel practiced full speed and in a regular red jersey on Wednesday.
People from Columbus aren’t surprised that Crowell has made the decision tough on coaches.
“Everybody here knows what an outstanding player Isaiah is,” Lindsey said. “He’s a great athlete but it’s his competitive edge that makes him special. He expects to be great. I have no doubt he’ll do well.”
Re-establishing as a recruiting stronghold has been a priority for Georgia, which had seen a lot of good players from the area go elsewhere in recent years. The city is just a half-hour from Auburn and has sent a lot of players all over.
“There are a lot of talented players that have come from there and a lot more talented players that are going to come from there,” said running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who recruits Columbus for the Bulldogs. “Hopefully players from there will see that you can come to Georgia and succeed both on the field and off of it.”
Crowell, Figgins and Jones and helping spread that message.
“UGA history in regards to outstanding players coming out of Columbus is not all that great,” Lindsey said. “I think these guys are going to break that mold. I sincerely believe that just having dealt with both those young men. I’ve never seen them in any trouble.”
Well, Crowell did have one shortcoming.
“The only time I ever had to deal with Isaiah was being late to school,” Lindsey said with a laugh. “As long as he stays levelheaded, though, he’ll be fine.”