ATHENS, Ga. — What once was four years is suddenly down to four months.
Blink, and the career of Georgia senior split end Marlon Brown will be over. The 6-foot-5, 216-pounder from Memphis was the most heralded Bulldogs newcomer in 2009 according to Scout.com, but injuries and inconsistencies have prevented him from becoming an elite college threat.
"I still feel like I'm in the middle of my career," Brown said. "I've made big plays and I've made plays that have helped us win, but I feel like I can do more, and I'm going to do more this season."
Brown was Scout.com's No. 16 player nationally in '09, ranking one spot behind former Alabama tailback Trent Richardson and one spot ahead of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. He was Georgia's third most prominent signee that year according to Rivals.com, ranking behind cornerback Branden Smith and quarterback Aaron Murray, and he waited until signing day before choosing Mark Richt's Bulldogs over Lane Kiffin's Tennessee Volunteers.
The three seasons since have produced just 28 catches for 382 yards and four touchdowns, but tagging him a recruiting bust would be extreme.
Brown is, after all, a projected starter after making five starts last season, and he had a 121-yard performance that the Bulldogs needed in their 33-28 escape last October at Vanderbilt. His 7-yard touchdown reception from Murray on the first play of the fourth quarter against Kentucky in November capped the scoring in a 19-10 win, a triumph that clinched the program's first SEC East title in six seasons.
"He realizes it's his final year, and he is so competitive right now," Murray said. "He has always looked great in camp, and he has always had great offseasons. He is a big target and a quarterback's dream. It's just that these first three years have been filled with nagging injuries.
"I think he's mentally tougher now, so I think he will battle through whatever may occur this season."
After catching just two passes as a freshman, Brown had 11 receptions for 133 yards two seasons ago, including an 8-yard touchdown in a loss at Colorado. He played that season with a shoulder injury, and he sprained ligaments in his left ankle during preseason camp last year.
The ankle hindered him through much of last season, as he managed 15 catches for 234 yards and three scores. Brown's yardage total ranked just sixth on the team.
"Nagging injuries have kept me from going full speed all the time and from practicing enough to learn things," he said. "I'm just praying for health right now. I have no regrets at all about my career here. You live and you learn. We've got Aaron back, and we've got all our receivers back, so I'm not expecting anything but a stellar season."
Said Richt: "We're all praying that he stays healthy and he does well."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs worked out for just over an hour Tuesday in preparation for today's third and final preseason scrimmage, which serves as a practice game for next week's opener with Buffalo. ... Among the injured Tuesday were receivers Chris Conley (shoulder contusion) and Tavarres King (lower leg strain) and tight end Jay Rome (hamstring).
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...
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