Being Isaiah Crowell these days means hearing a stranger call out your name when you are hanging out at the Georgia Square Mall.
Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell was kept out of practice Friday with a groin injury, but he insists it isn‚Äôt serious.
It means when you get held out of most of Georgia’s football practice on Friday because of a sore groin, panic spreads from Bainbridge to Blairsville.
It means some 20 media members wait and wait and wait for an audience with the heralded Georgia freshman tailback when he finally is available to speak for the first time since arriving on campus this summer.
“It’s been kind of overwhelming sometimes,” Crowell says of his celebrity status.
Crowell came to Georgia to run the football.
And the Bulldogs need the nation’s No. 1 tailback recruit by several ratings including Scout.com to jumpstart their ground game and help turn around a program coming off a 6-7 season.
Before he takes his first college snap on Sept. 3 against Boise State in the Georgia Dome, he’s already had to deal with months of buildup, some tearing down and then the reality of camp life as a rookie.
Crowell has to wake up at 7 a.m., but would prefer to hit the snooze button.
“I’m not a morning person,” he said.
When you are viewed by some as the savior of the program, there’s no time off.
“It’s going to be hard for that kid to pump gas without people knowing who he is and asking him something,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said. “It comes with the territory so to speak, but now he has just got to handle it.”
Quintavious Harrow, a former high school teammate at Carver High in Columbus and now a freshman safety for Georgia, told the story about Crowell getting recognized on their recent trip to the mall.
“He just waved at them, looked and kept going,” said Harrow, Crowell’s best friend since kindergarten.
Crowell actually says he doesn’t go out a lot around Athens.
“I try to not stay out too much because I know a lot of people might know who I am,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to preseason camp, rumors abounded about Crowell not showing up in shape and having a poor work ethic.
“I heard all that,” he said. “It wasn’t nothing to it. People are going to say what they want to say.”
The fishbowl existence isn’t so bad really.
“Life’s been good for him,” Harrow said. “He loves Georgia. He likes how they give him a lot of reps and he just works hard at everything he does.”
Yes, there have been a lot of practice reps, but not on Friday.
Crowell did some limited work early in practice with his left thigh wrapped, but was held out for most of the full-pad practice due to the minor groin injury. Coach Mark Richt said he’s day-to-day, but that the injury is not believed to be serious.
“We shut him down today,” Richt said. “His groin is bothering him some. We don’t think there was a pull, but you get enough practices in a row going live and all that stuff, sometimes you wake up in the morning and you can’t go full speed. That’s what happened with him.”
Crowell says the Bulldog Nation should not be walking the ledge.
“They shouldn’t be panicked because it’s not really that serious,” he said. “It was just weak or whatever.”
Crowell’s injury came two days after he rushed for a team-best 84 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown in the first preseason scrimmage.
The transition to the college game physically “hasn’t been that hard for me. I feel like I fit right in,” he said.
He’ll have to get used to the interviews.
“I don’t like speaking, but I know I have to,” he said as he sat on a stool in the Butts-Mehre building before reporters and some TV cameras.
If touchdowns come easier then sound bites, Georgia fans will certainly take that.