“I’m happy to get another guy, I thought we needed more running backs. I think that’s a good thing.” (Isaiah Crowell, 12/17/2011)
The problem for every heavily hyped tailback from the State of Georgia is the fact that ‘Herschel Walker’ existed. Keep it real with yourself and recognize the truth behind that statement. If you’re a young tailback from this state, and you have had a great deal of success at the high school level, chances are, you will find yourself being compared to a player who, honestly, has had few equals—ever.
That said, Isaiah Crowell was already headed for some rough waters from the moment he lifted that small, white, Bulldog puppy and pronounced himself a “Dawg”. Does that excuse the mistakes he’s made this season? No, not one bit, but try and imagine living in his shoes for a minute and then consider how you might feel about being so heavily criticized and scrutinized for your actions both on and off the field.
Could you handle the heat?
Would you choose to stay in the kitchen if the owners started throwing the pots, pans, and utensils your way?
Well, before anyone mistakes me for being an Isaiah Crowell apologist, let me clarify something, I’ve had my fair share of misgivings about how well-equipped that young man is, at this stage of his career, to handle the mental, physical, and emotional toll a player in his position will be asked to endure.
I didn’t think it was a good thing to see both Caleb King and Washaun Ealey leave prior to his arrival—although both had to go—because it left so much of the responsibility on him to make something happen in a run game that was looking skechy—at best—for 2011. Suddenly he was going to have to be the catalyst and the work horse for the team and he was not ready to do so coming from a high school where he often was done working by halftime.
However, he handled the expectations and the work load well enough the first half of the season to be effective, and I’d argue that without his production in several of those games, the team might not have been able to rebound as well as they did this past season.
In my view, he was a significant part of the solution before he began being viewed as a frustrating piece of the problem. That said, he can now look forward to seeing Keith Marshall arrive on campus to maybe lift some of his burden and, hopefully, offer the kind production that keeps him hungry to get better.
Crowell needs balance at Georgia and I feel he recognizes an opportunity for that balance to start with another back who can be every bit as effective as everyone expects him to be. That will be the key to getting Crowell back on track mentally. As for the rest, well, hopefully maturity and a year under his belt solves those ails.