Q&A WITH ISAIAH CROWELL
With 29 more yards rushing, Isaiah Crowell will have turned in the best performance by a freshman tailback since Herschel Walker had 1,616 in 1980. Crowell currently has 847 yards, 28 behind Thomas Brown, who had 875 in 2004. Crowell was named SEC Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American. Yet he’s vilified on blogs and in fan forums and was actually booed in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. The frustration over Crowell is everyone can plainly see his first season at Georgia could have even more glorious. Suspensions, injuries and a general inability to stay on the football field for expended periods of time makes it seem his was only a part-time effort.
On track for a 1,000-yard season, an ankle injury limited Crowell to just 26 yards on 12 carries in the Bulldogs’ final three games. He claims to be healthy now but heads into the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl second team behind redshirt freshman Ken Malcome. By all accounts there is nothing currently that would keep Crowell out of that game. This past weekend, Crowell spent a few minutes talking with reporters about his first season at Georgia and what it felt like from his perspective.
Q: At one point 1,000 yards rushing — one of your stated goals — seemed like a foregone conclusion. But then you didn’t play much from the Kentucky game on. Is that something you still believe is achievable?
A: “I don’t think it’s out of reach. I mean, it it happens, I’ll be happy. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be happy because I had a great season, a freshman season. So if it doesn’t happen I’ll just come back and try again next year.”
Q: You also said you wanted to be named a freshman All-American and that happened for you, too. Was that exciting for you?
A: “Yeah, I was excited about it. But I don’t really pay attention to stuff like that.”
Q: If there was any one thing you could change about this past season, what would it be?
A: “I think everything I did, there’s a reason for everything. So, no, I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
Q: Ken Malcome has been working at first-team tailback ahead of you. Have you been motivated by the competition?
A: “Yeah, you’re always going to compete. Even when I was first team I was still competing. So it’s nothing really new to me. At practice you’re going to compete. I don’t look at it like I’m trying to beat him out. I want him to do well, too. It’s going to come down to the coaches anyway, so I don’t really look at it too much.”
Q: I’m sure you saw where Georgia got a commitment from tailback Keith Marshall of Raleigh. He’s the No. 1 running back prospect in the country, like you were last year. Do you feel threatened or frustrated because UGA felt the need to pursue another big-time back?
A: “Really I’m happy to get another guy. I thought we needed more running backs. So I think that’s a good thing.”
Q: Did you meet Marshall during recruiting?
A: “We talked on the phone and texted. But I haven’t really met him face to face.”
Q: Noticed you haven’t been in green for practice. Are you fully recovered from your left-ankle injury.
A: “Yes I am. I’m farther along.”
Q: What are some lessons you learned your first season?
A: “Just follow my teammates and coaches. They’re counting on me to do what I’m supposed to do. . . . I think I need to be more accountable and handle my responsibilities better.”
Q: How glad were you did get fall semester exams behind you?
A: “Really, I’m happy that’s all that’s over. I felt like I needed a break. I’m just ready to chill out some. So, yeah, I was happy about it.”
Q: There probably hasn’t been a more scrutinized and speculated-about athlete at Georgia in a long while. Did you ever hear all the rumors that were circulating about you?
A: “I don’t really look at it. I don’t really pay attention to it. People don’t come to me with those things. I hear about it. I don’t pay no attention to it.”
Q: Which one did you think was the most outlandish?
A: “All of it.”
Q: So then you’ve heard that you want to transfer, right?
A: “Yeah. I’m happy here. I know there’s rumors about me wanting to transfer and all that, but no. I never said that.”
Q: What do you think of Malcome and how he’s playing presently?
A: “He’s a great teammate and a good person. He works hard. I can see us playing together and doing well. I think we’ll be a good combination. I know he knows how to run the ball well.”