Georgia football players constantly aware of risks for major injury

Georgia senior wide receiver Marlon Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury on this tackle by Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/US Presswire)

Georgia senior wide receiver Marlon Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury on this tackle by Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/US Presswire)

ATHENS – For John Jenkins, the harsh realities of the physical battle he had just waged didn’t hit him until the Florida game was over. Only then, when the adrenaline had subsided and he had to make the long walk to the locker room, did he realize how much he actually hurt.

“I didn’t really realize how tough it was until the end of the game when I felt how banged up my body was,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-3, 358-pound senior noseguard who is playing with ankle and wrist injuries. “Sunday I was so sore. But during the game, my adrenaline was going so much I didn’t realize how tough and physical everything was.

“When the game was over it, like, drained out of me, mentally, emotionally and physically.”

This is the side of college football that people outside the game often forget about. Everybody knows football is a physical sport, but the mental and physical grind of it usually is not appreciated until a player ends up writhing on the field in pain and has to be helped off of it.

That happened Saturday at about the 11-minute mark of the third quarter against Ole Miss, when Georgia wide receiver Marlon Brown went down in a heap near the Georgia sideline. Later Brown learned he suffered the fate all athletes dread — a torn ACL. His senior season was over.

The reality that their seasons could end similarly looms over every Georgia player each time they step on the field. It’s the same for every athlete who plays for tuition, books and board with the hopes of possible professional careers.

“I ask God for safety any time I step on any field,” Georgia flanker Tavarres King said. “You definitely don’t want to have it happen to you, but it’s something you definitely can’t think about. Knee injuries are inevitable. It’s a tough game, and we know what we’re putting ourselves into. Bad things happen.”

Said Georgia coach Mark Richt: “It’s a physical game. It’s a high-contact sport with a lot of emotion and a lot of guys running into each other. So things are going to get hurt.”

Brown was the third Georgia starter — and second wide receiver — to be lost to a season-ending injury this season. The Bulldogs also lost split end Michael Bennett in practice Oct. 3 and defensive end Abry Jones against Kentucky on Oct. 20.

Two other starters are questionable this week because of injuries. Right guard Chris Burnette is sidelined with a left shoulder injury, and fullback Merritt Hall has been out since the first offensive play against Florida, with an ankle injury. Both could play Saturday.

That’s somewhere between high and normal for an SEC team entering the 11th week of the season.

“Some years you’ll lose a guy a game or two, but to have three guys out for the rest of the year who were prominent players and starters, that’s been tough,” Richt said Tuesday. “It’s been tough that two (Jones and Brown) have been seniors and their careers ended early for us. … (But) I wouldn’t sit here and say woe is me or anything like that. I hate it for each individual, but I can’t say it’s been an awful year in that regard.”

An informal survey of the SEC teams found that only Mississippi State and Vanderbilt have not lost any starters to season-ending injuries. Of the 11 teams that responded to email inquiries, Alabama listed the most sidelined starters, with five. Arkansas counts four. All three of Missouri’s are on the offensive line.

With some teams it’s more about who is out than how many. South Carolina has lost two players, but one was All-American running back Marcus Lattimore. Auburn is playing without star tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (hip).

Players know it could happen to them at any time.

“At this level it happens because you’re taking more of a beating,” sophomore defensive back Damian Swann said. “You’re playing against bigger, stronger, physical guys than you played against in high school. It’s like that week in and week out. You get a couple of days off after Saturday, but by Tuesday you’re back in it full speed at practice and you’re still running into guys.”

At this point in the year, virtually every regular is playing with something.

“You have all kinds of problems at this point,” said Georgia offensive lineman Kenarious Gates, who hasn’t missed a game this season. “It’s something you just have to deal with and go on. Bumps and bruises come and go until the end of the season. You just have to fight through it.”

It’s the injuries they can’t fight through that worry players most.

“They don’t happen all the time,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said of serious injuries. “We’ve had two or three this year. You can’t worry about it or think about it because if you go out there and play timid or play scared, that’s when injuries happen. … You just have to go out and compete hard and realize things are going to happen.”

Murray’s had his share of hard knocks. He suffered season-ending injuries his sophomore (torn labrum) and senior (broken leg) seasons in high school. But he has proved remarkably durable at Georgia.

It hasn’t been from a lack of contact. Murray was sacked five times and was hit twice that this past Saturday Saturday

“Lots of Advil, stretching, yoga, ice baths. The usual,” Murray quipped. “It’s not fun, but it’s the chance you take when you play this game.”


26 comments Add your comment

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joe jenkins

November 6th, 2012
6:39 pm

go dawgs lets get it done

Max Sizemore

November 6th, 2012
7:17 pm

Pretty indicative photo of Elston twisting Marlon’s leg. Did it look intentional to anyone else? It sure looked that way to me.


November 6th, 2012
8:36 pm

Players are aware of the risk , but there is also no sport that has the intensity or adrenaline rush that playing football has. It was very hard to sleep the night after a game due to replays in your dreams. If you were worried about injury you might as well have stayed home. Good luck Dawgs !


November 6th, 2012
9:57 pm

These young folks at this level risk injury in hopes of playing the game on the big stage on Sundays for the rich financial rewards at that level. It is a rough sport, as any contact sport will be. Few at this level do it for the sheer joy of playing the game at this point, but they all give it their best so fans, like myslef, can enjoy the game and have a team and school to rally around. For fans, it is a pride thing but for a lot of these players, it is a occupation they are trying to hone their skills in, and hopefully reap the financial rewards down the road.
I hope UGA players don’t suffer anymore season ending injuries this year, as they all seem to be working hard at obtaining their goals.

just sayin

November 7th, 2012
12:11 am

THe AJC sports likes to remind us of injuries to Georgia players. Every article that’s written is to remind the Georgia fan base whose been hurt. They seldom write about the achievements on the field…it’s all about injuries.


November 7th, 2012
2:02 am

Elston made a dirty play on Marlon Brown. I hope the Bulldogs remember that next year.

Columbus Dawg

November 7th, 2012
8:40 am

You are right Max, someone should send that photo to the league office.

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November 7th, 2012
11:11 am

Best of luck to all of our players speedy recovery for those injured and here’s hoping there are no more serious injuries this season…Go Dogs!


November 7th, 2012
11:33 am

I was floored at the game that a flag was not flown. We were standing right over it and you could see the kid twist and role the leg. It was a very dirty tackle.

ole dawg

November 7th, 2012
12:49 pm

My wife noticed the play when it happened and she said, “he (Elston) is trying to hurt the Georgia players leg.” If she noticed it, why didn’t the ref notice it?


November 7th, 2012
1:41 pm

The dawgs get no love from the officials. I remember when the Ole Miss ballcarrier stepped out of bounds, Williams tried to let up and the ball carrier dropped his shoulder pads and nailed him. The refs called Uga for a 15 yarder cause the Ole Miss ball carrier ran over our defender out of bounds.


November 7th, 2012
1:44 pm

You will see more and more of this as they step up the fight against hits to head.

No. 1 Braves Fan

November 7th, 2012
1:51 pm

Chip: Are not ALL players on any football team constantly aware for risks of major injuries?


November 7th, 2012
2:08 pm

Years past…all these injuries started in fall camp.


November 7th, 2012
2:21 pm

Columbus Dawg and Max; wow, your vision is amazing that you can see from a still photo that someone is twisting or torquing someone’s leg. Looks like he is diving for a low tackle to me. Get a life…


November 7th, 2012
2:25 pm

Wow, this is really boring. Where’s all the whiny, crybaby haters calling for Richt’s head on a platter, drawing on their astute football acumens to point out how inept Mike Bobo is at play calling, or how the UGA football program is a sinking ship. If Richt & Co. beat Auburn for the eighth time in twelve attempts Saturday night, we (true UGA fans) will have won back-to-back division titles. Yep, just like I said all along, CMR will be around for a very, very long time.

God Bless you, Coach Richt. God Bless Georgia. Go Dawgs !!!!!!!

Rambo Dog

November 7th, 2012
4:23 pm

I saw Elston twist Marlon’s leg when Elston was getting up. I said to my buddy..”did you see that?”..He also saw it. DIRTY PLAY.


November 7th, 2012
4:58 pm

Elston definitely tried to hurt him. when he knew Brown was down from the momentum of their collision he continued to hold onto his leg and role his body over it. all he had to do was let go of the leg but he didnt. dirty MF

mike on lake hartwell

November 7th, 2012
5:43 pm

what CALHOUNDAWG said….


Mobile Dawg

November 7th, 2012
7:22 pm

Calhoun is looking for a fight, must still be pissed about the election.


November 7th, 2012
8:24 pm

@Rambo They tried to get Gurly also on that play where he came up limping.

A Laugh a Minute

November 8th, 2012
12:07 pm

At least the UGA players don’t have to worry about brain damage in a concussion.

They have no brains to be damaged.

cory J

November 9th, 2012
12:15 am

I think that most audiences are not aware or does not give a damn about athletes’ post game trauma and injuries. And if they had it, they have to work three times harder just so they will still have the scholarship and to be “beautiful” in scout’s eyes. I think though that there should be more doctors and psychiatrists that should focus on sports injury and trauma and how it affects the players.

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