Georgia’s tailbacks couldn’t stay out of the headlines last year for all the wrong reasons.
Caleb King was declared academically ineligible in the summer and entered the NFL supplemental draft.
Carlton Thomas was suspended for the season opener and then two more times before deciding to transfer on the first day of spring practice.
Isaiah Crowell was suspended for a quarter against Vanderbilt and then joined Ken Malcome (who left the team briefly) and Thomas in being suspended against New Mexico State.
And here we are now in mid-June. There are crickets chirping.
Not a peep of negativity with the tailbacks now. (I know. Georgia fans are probably thinking: Please don’t jinx things).
The good news is that running backs coach Bryan McClendon doesn’t see any King-like news on the horizon this summer regarding players becoming academically ineligible at the position.
“Last year around this time, you knew that he (King) was going to have to pull some stuff off in order to be eligible that fall,” McClendon said. “You knew about it that whole time. He worked his tail off and just couldn’t come out of that hole he dug himself. Right now, nobody’s anywhere even remotely close to that situation.”
Like many players, Crowell went home in May, McClendon said, but he’s back with the team this month. Players are doing their summer workouts on campus while going to summer school.
McClendon sees maturation in Crowell entering his sophomore season.
“Man, he’s doing, I want to knock on wood, but he’s doing a great job,” McClendon said. “He’s had a great spring. That’s propelled him into the offseason that’s he had. He’s really maturing, just really finding the value in doing all the small stuff. That’s where you see a guy mature the most, just how you value doing some of those small things.”
Remember, last summer quarterback Aaron Murray and center Ben Jones sought out Crowell at his dorm room to get him to work on offensive drills and get into his playbook. Tight end Arthur Lynch signaled that things were different now at the start of spring practices.
Georgia coaches, meanwhile, just wrapped up camp on Saturday at the end of a week in which it lost the commitment from Derrick Henry, the highy-regarded tailback recruit from Yulee (Fla.) High near Jacksonville.
That means Georgia doesn’t have a tailback commitment now among its 19 for 2013.
How many are on the Bulldogs’ radar?
“It’s a good bit,” McClendon said. “You’ve got to keep a pool of them. You know certain guys it’s going to take recruiting them to the wire. That’s just the name of it.”
Georgia is recruiting at a position where it currently has two sophomores (Crowell and Malcome) and two freshmen (Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley).
“I think it makes it a little more interesting,” McClendon said. “That’s for sure. When guys are sitting there saying the top two guys are two freshmen and two sophomores, they definitely pay attention to it. After this year, we’re only going to have four tailbacks on scholarship. That’s it. That’s the number that I’m focusing on. We’ve got to get a little bit deeper in that position.”
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