|Photo: Steve Colquitt/UGA|
Most of us will never have a clue what it feels like to carry the weight of a state (Georgia), the legacy of a champion (Herschel Walker), and the future of a program (UGA Football) on our shoulders.
We won’t know what it feels like to embody the expectations of millions of fans, who have visions of crystal trophies and BCS glory dancing in their heads, only to see many of those same fans turn on you when you don’t deliver the way they would have liked.
And, on a simpler level, most of us will never know what it feels like to slip on a football jersey, take the field, and suddenly realize our purpose is to reinvigorate a program that most of the SEC has left for dead.
Isaiah Crowell took on those challenges the minute he committed to Georgia and most never let him forget it—much to his chagrin.
Flash forward to one year, a cooled seat, and one new recruiting class later, and manyhave already forgotten about Crowell altogether. They’ve decided he’s destined to be a basket case of a football player (plagued by many of the same issues that kept both Caleb King and, curse the name, Jasper Sanks succumbed to when they were at Georgia).
The keys to Georgia’s kingdom have been repossessed and readily handed to a new set of tailbacks, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, leaving Crowell in the position of being the “has-been” before his ‘SEC Freshman of the Year’ trophy has had the chance to collect any dust.
That said, I have often believed that Crowell’s problem isn’t his performance, but rather his perspective.
Early on, after both Caleb King and Washaun Ealey departed, it was easy to predict Crowell wouldn’t be comfortable coming to Georgia under the existing circumstances. Sure, he talked the talk and walked the walk, but what kid wants to enter a situation where the head coach and his staff are under fire and coaching for their professional lives?
That pressure alone was enough to make the veteran guys feel the heat, much less Crowell who was already being anointed as the savior of the team ($) without having executed one carry.
“…last year the whole talk was, ‘If you don’t get to the SEC championship game, you don’t win 10 games, Coach Richt is going to get fired.’ We didn’t talk about it too much. Everybody on the team felt like, ‘Hey, we don’t want the coaching staff to leave.’ It was stressful, I think, not only for us but the coaches. (Aaron Murray to Gentry Estes, “Notes: Dogs see growth in Crowell”, Dawgs247, 3/1/2012)
So along comes Crowell, wearing his red cape with the big ’1′ on the back, into the fray—the “savior” for Georgia—trying to both adjust to life after high school super stardom and life as a superstar for the team that “runs” his state.
I don’t care who you are, or what you think of Crowell as a player, you have to admit that’s a tough road to hoe.
Herschel Walker might have been able to come in and be the difference, but there’s a reason his name is spoken with such reverence by Georgia fans. There will only ever be one of him.
This season, if what teammates are saying is any indication, we should be prepared to see a more focused, more potent, and more energized player in Crowell. A player who is finally coming out of the haze of being lauded as the best tailback in the state as well as the player who will be the next Herschel Walker.
Isaiah can get back to the business of being Isaiah…and that may not be a bad thing.