ATHENS – OK, just got through with the first round of interviews this morning. The beat corps so far has had interview sessions with WR Malcolm Mitchell, TB Richard Samuel and TE Arthur Lynch.
Lynch had the most noteworthy things to say so far, chiefly because he is close to freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell and was willing to comment on him extensively and candidly.
What started the whole thread was Lynch simply offered that Crowell is one of the players that has impressed him the most during off-season workouts. He said the enigmatic freshman has been “leading his group” during mat drills and weightlifting sessions and said he expects “incredible things” out of Crowell this coming fall.
Lynch, it should be noted, is Crowell’s “Big Brother” within head coach Mark Richt’s “Brother’s Keeper” team concept. That is, all underclassmen are assigned a “big brother” among the upper classmen. So Lynch talks and meets with Crowell regularly and knows him better than a lot of players on the team.
Before we get into that, it should be noted that Lynch, a redshirt sophomore from Dartmouth, Mass., is the projected starter at tight end and is looking forward to becoming a major, every-down contributor for the Bulldogs this season.
For now, here’s what Lynch had to say about Crowell, then I’ll come back with a sort of roundup of the news and notes produced from all of today’s interviews. . . .
“The person I’ve been most impressed with — and the person who I think has been wrongly scrutinized the whole year — was Isaiah,” Lynch said. “You ask these high expectations out of a kid who’s 18 years old, it’s such a different game than high school. Let’s face it, he had instant success and people were so demanding of him to be the savior, this idea of `Oh, the next Herschel.’ That was just unfairly [placed on] him. . . .
“I’ve seen him mature from the day he got here and we had to drag him to workouts to now where he’s the leader of his group during workouts. I’ve talked to him a bit. We have a ‘Brother’s Keeper’ thing and he’s my little brother. I just talked to him, not even about football, but just about regular stuff. He’s really just a quiet, humble kid. He’ll never talk bad about this or that. He just kind of likes to be chill, be low key. . . .
“He’s a kid that I think will make a lot of noise this year if he keeps doing what he’s doing. I’m extremely proud of the way he’s handled the pressure last season and now this preseason moving up to spring and eventually the fall.
“I don’t think he ever had to go to workouts demanding two hours a day. It’s different for everybody. Everybody just used him as prime example just because of the fact he was Isaiah and he was this highly-touted guy and all that. There were other guys who had the same problems he did, they just might have been redshirting or they might not have been playing or had as big an impact on the team. I think just to see him with Coach T working out in the sprints and the mat drills and lifting, you can see he wants to get better and he’s finally getting it. Coach Richt always says `The Georgia Way. The Georgia Way. The Georgia Way,’ which in reality is the right way. He’s understanding how to do it at a speed where he’s comfortable with it.”
Interesting comments from Lynch here on the criticism Crowell endured over not being able to play hurt last season. . . .
“An ankle, as a running back? I don’t play running back so if I had a high-ankle sprain I think I could get through it because I don’t have to make the same amount of cuts he does. But when you play against LSU, let’s face it, they played in the national championship game, and in the SEC championship game they boo him? I thought that was, one, disrespectful, and two, I don’t think anyboidy understood the pain he was going through.
“Richard [Samuel] had a high-ankle sprain and needed surgery. He couldn’t even play. I thinkn that’s the thing, it could have been a little bit worse and Isaiah would have needed surgery, I’m just saying as an example. But you never heard them taking shots at anybody else because of injuries and that’s because of the expectations that were placed on his shoulders.
“As a junior or a senior, maybe he should grind through it. But I thought he grinded through it enough. He sat one game and then he tried to play in that SEC Championship Game when we needed him. You could tell in practice he was hurting. It wasn’t like he was going to cop out in the game because he couldn’t reach the level of success he had in prior games. I thought he was legitimately hurt and fought through it more than anyone could expect. I was proud of him for just going out there and having some carries.”
And finally, Lynch on Crowell’s disposition . . .
“I think he’s a kid who loves football to death, but if he wasn’t a football player he wouldn’t mind that much. When he’s on the field, he’s a competitor and he gets after it, but then when he’s off, he hangs out with Quintavius [Harrow], Q, that’s his high school buddy. He grew up with him, and he’s just fine. All he wants to do is succeed for him and his family back home and obviously for his teammates. He’s realizing how he can do it. He’ll be incredible.”