When Brendan Douglas arrived in Athens last summer, he had no idea ‚Äî and therefore, no expectations ‚Äî about the Georgia football season that awaited.
As a freshman tailback, he was well aware that playing time would probably be sparse as long as Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall stayed healthy. But Gurley suffered an ankle injury in late September and Marshall went out for the season with a torn ACL a week later, providing the 5-foot-11, 202-pound Douglas an opportunity to contribute.
‚ÄúI pretty much came in to work hard and to do what the coaches tell me to do,‚Äù Douglas said. ‚ÄúI wasn‚Äôt sure what was going to happen because I had those two great running backs ahead of me. I didn‚Äôt expect things to happen like they did, but the coaches had me ready for it, so it was alright.‚Äù
Playing in 12 games, the Augusta native ran for 345 yards and three touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 172 yards and another score. Critical fumbles in both the Missouri and Vanderbilt games marked down moments for Douglas, but as far as he‚Äôs concerned, that‚Äôs all in the past.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs something you‚Äôve got to move on from eventually,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIt shouldn‚Äôt happen ‚Äì it‚Äôs not acceptable. It was disappointing and I was disappointed about it, but then again you‚Äôve just got to move on, get over it and working on it every day.‚Äù
And as the Bulldogs‚Äô Aug. 30 opener against Clemson moves closer, Douglas again doesn‚Äôt harbor any expectation as to when or if he‚Äôll be called upon. Besides a healthier Gurley and Marshall, Douglas is also sharing practice time with high-profile freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, making for at least one spot where Georgia has an enviable surplus of bodies.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know ‚Äî we‚Äôll see what happens,‚Äù Douglas said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs up to the coaches, and if they want me to play I‚Äôm ready to go. It‚Äôs fine. I love competing and we‚Äôre competing for the job, but then again, we‚Äôre helping each other out and trying to make each other better.
Quarterback Hutson Mason, who says he considers Douglas a starter alongside Gurley and Marshall, added that he greatly appreciates what Douglas brings to the field.
‚ÄúBrendan is that quiet bulldozer,‚Äù Mason said. ‚ÄúHe does a lot of the dirty work. It may be that around campus that a lot of people don‚Äôt know Brendan Douglas, but he‚Äôs a tough downhill runner. He‚Äôs going to get that short yardage for you, those touchdowns in the red zone.
‚ÄúA lot of guys have a respect for him because they understand he‚Äôs not the flashy guy who‚Äôs going to put up two touchdowns and 150 yards a game or get you a lot of fantasy points, so to speak. He‚Äôs just going to do that dirty work that you need on third-and-short.‚Äù
Georgia coach Mark Richt ‚Äî who pointed out last week that Douglas had yet to miss a summer practice ‚Äî echoed Mason‚Äôs confidence in the running back.
‚ÄúHe knows what to do and he‚Äôs ready to play in big games,‚Äù Richt said.
In addition to being teammates with Gurley and Marshall, Douglas said that in some ways he‚Äôs their student.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs great. You learn from them so much, just watching them play and seeing what they do,‚Äù Douglas said. ‚ÄúYou just want to try to carry it over from their play and learn from them ‚Äî watching their film and seeing what they do.‚Äù