|Photo Credit: John Bazemore/AP|
I’ve been reading and following a lot of the commentary on Crowell over the last week or so and one theme seems to be rising from all the chatter with a great deal of momentum: he’s soft and highly overrated. Some are even comparing him to Washaun Ealey (a player whom many felt sabotaged his career at Georgia by sporting an overwhelming sense of entitlement).
Crowell may be slightly immature and may have possibly under-estimated the ease of his transition from high school to college-level football, but he is hardly overrated. After all, even with numerous injuries, an embarrassing suspension, and some frustrating moments of inconsistency in his play, he still managed to finish the regular season with over 800 yards and SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
Say what you want about him, but that’s not something to sniff at.
As a self-described SEC apologist, I can tell you that SEC fan bases—not unlike most others—can be a fickle bunch. One week they’ll love a player/coach for all the things he did right in a win and the next they’ll break him down for all the things he did wrong in a loss. That passion is part of what makes the SEC so wonderful in the eyes and hearts of so many but it can also cause a fan base to completely turn against a player whom they once lauded as a step in the right direction for an ailing program and, in Crowell’s case, he’s getting it in spades.
Does Crowell have some growing up to do? Probably. Should he have taken more time to physically prepare himself for the rigors of the SEC? Sure. But his inability to master either of those things this season—his TRUE FRESHMAN one—does not negate the flashes of brilliance we saw against several SEC teams this year and it certainly doesn’t warrant him being booed on the SEC’s biggest stage—the SEC Championship Game.
Crowell is a true freshman—again I can’t stress that enough—who arrived on campus with a great deal of expectation. Many looked for him to be ready to take on everything the SEC and it’s defenses had to offer—just like the highly touted Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer did at South Carolina and Auburn, respectively, before him—but when he started getting banged up, easily winded, and missing time, people wanted to question his toughness and dedication in the weight room. He was suddenly soft and incapable of carrying the load at Georgia—another “bust”.
Listen, in my opinion, Crowell wasn’t looking to walk into a starting position at Georgia. He may have had aspirations of playing time—maybe even significant playing time—but he by no means thought he’d be the workhorse. He figured Caleb King would be there to mentor and spell him—take away some of that glaring spotlight he signed under—but instead he quickly became the guy at Georgia and he was by no means ready to bear the brunt of what that meant.
Crowell has said on multiple occasions that he didn’t expect to be the kind of back who would take the ball 25-30 times a game (a la the aforementioned Dyer and Lattimore). He knew he wasn’t used to those kinds of carries at a level as physical and demanding as the SEC, so he hoped to have other pieces around him who would compliment his style and share the load. The situation he came into was one of complete imbalance and upheaval and that meant more of the blame for what wasn’t working in the running game could be—rightfully or not—attributed to him. What kid wants that burden in his first year?
I’ll tell you this much, don’t believe the garbage other media outlets will feed you, I guarantee you the arrival of Keith Marshall will be the best thing that happens to Crowell at Georgia. He’ll gladly welcome the addition of a back who has the potential to be as explosive as many feel Marshall can be and the two together will, hopefully, provide just the 1-2 punch Aaron Murray needs to keep the passing game on the rise.
I agree that Crowell has some growing up to do—both as a player and a teammate—but I feel he showed enough this season to not be written off this soon in his career. Give him time, people.
Give him time.