published Friday, February 3rd, 2012

UGA early enrollee Keith Marshall whiz kid

Georgia tailback Keith Marshall
Georgia tailback Keith Marshall
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HARVEY-CLEMONS SIGNS


Georgia received the letter-of-intent from Valdosta linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons on Thursday morning, bringing the number of Bulldogs signees to 19. The 6-foot-5, 208-pounder is rated the No. 1 outside linebacker nationally by ESPN, and his addition bumped Georgia from 19th to 11th in Rivals.com's team rankings.

As a Lowndes High senior, Harvey-Clemons amassed 132 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. He also had 215 receiving yards, 117 rushing yards and five total touchdowns.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Forget the fact he's the No. 1 or No. 2 tailback nationally depending on the recruiting service, and forget that he rushed for nearly 1,900 yards this past season.

The top tidbit regarding Georgia early enrollee Keith Marshall is that he's recorded a higher grade point average than a 40-yard dash time.

Marshall, a 5-foot-11, 190-pounder, graduated from Millbrook High in Raleigh, N.C., with a 4.31 GPA, and he ran the 40-yard dash at a summer camp last year in 4.25 seconds. His 40 time was by no means official, but having those two numbers even in the same vicinity has to be impressive, doesn't it?

"Yes, sir," a humble Marshall said Wednesday when asked about the accomplishment.

According to Georgia's coaches and players, Marshall's smarts and speed are serving him well during his first weeks in college. He claims to know all the schemes he will be responsible for once spring practice begins, though he is quick to point out that it will be much different when he's competing in live drills.

Marshall defeated sophomore receiver Malcolm Mitchell twice in three sprint races last month outside the Butts-Mehre athletic complex. The deciding race was filmed by junior quarterback Aaron Murray and can be seen on YouTube.com.

"I've seen people say where I challenged him, but it was nothing like that," Marshall said. "We were working out and running routes, and we got to talking about who was faster, so we went out and raced. It was his idea.

"All the guys thought he was going to win, so it was kind of a cool feeling."

Bulldogs running backs coach Bryan McClendon admitted he was alarmed when he heard of the races but was soothed quickly after learning that each participant warmed up properly.

"You get a lot of that stuff, to be honest with you, with guys who love to compete," McClendon said, "and you like the fact that guys love to compete. It's all in good fun, obviously, and it's nothing really hazardous."

There will be plenty of competition in the months ahead in Georgia's backfield. Four tailbacks started games for the Bulldogs last season -- Isaiah Crowell, Richard Samuel, Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas -- and a fifth, former walk-on Brandon Harton, rushed for 101 yards to help Georgia clinch the SEC East with a win over Kentucky.

All five are scheduled to return, and they will be joined by Marshall and Todd Gurley, Rivals.com's No. 5 tailback nationally. Crowell was ESPN's top-rated tailback last winter and led the Bulldogs this past season with 850 yards, but he faltered down the stretch due to a suspension and ankle woes.

"I think he's a great player, and I think he can make me better," Marshall said. "Hopefully I can make him better, and we can feed off each other and the other running backs. We have plenty of good running backs here, and we can all make each other better."

The Bulldogs hope to be as deep and effective at tailback as they were in 2007, when Knowshon Moreno, Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin combined for nearly 2,200 yards. That season ended with Moreno rushing for 17- and 11-yard touchdowns in a Sugar Bowl rout of Hawaii, which Marshall said was the night he fell in love with Georgia.

"There aren't many running backs anymore who come in thinking, 'I've got to be the only guy,'" Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said. "I don't think anybody wants to be the only guy, because if you're going to carry the ball 25 to 30 times a game in our league, it's not healthy for you. You want guys who can share the load with you to keep you healthy and keep you fresh.

"Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are high-character young men, and they are physical enough to play this game. These guys are special backs, and we're excited about them."

about David Paschall...

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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