ATHENS, Ga. - Most Georgia football players list Florida or Georgia Tech as the team they would most like to defeat.
Not Marlon Brown.
For the 6-foot-5, 219-pound sophomore receiver from Memphis, no game means more than this week's matchup against visiting Tennessee. Brown is the only Volunteer State player competing for the Bulldogs this season.
"It means a lot to me personally," Brown said. "It's the one I want more than any other."
Brown could make a difference in his second go-around against the Volunteers, having been a wide-eyed freshman last season when he went to Neyland Stadium. He had two catches for 15 yards in last year's game, which Tennessee won 45-19, but those were his only receptions of the year.
This season, Brown has seven catches for 92 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in last Saturday's 29-27 loss at Colorado.
"I wouldn't say he's the guy that we're designing plays for to get the ball, but when he's had opportunities he's made them," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "Marlon is coming along and is going to become the player that we thought he was going to be when we signed him."
Brown was courted heavily by the Bulldogs, Vols and Ohio State as a Parade All-American and one of Rivals.com's top five receivers nationally in the 2009 class. He was the top prospect in Tennessee and the top in-state target of former Vols coach Lane Kiffin.
Though he chose to leave the state, Brown believes his publicized recruitment went as well as can be expected.
"Coach Kiffin called me when I signed here, and he told me good luck and that I was a good player and that he would see me in the future," Brown said. "He was cool about it, real cool about it."
Brown had 1,785 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns as a Harding Academy senior in 2008 and became the first Memphis private-school player to earn Parade status. His adjustment from a smaller high-school classification to the Southeastern Conference wasn't easy, as Brown played in just eight games last season.
This season, he has at least one reception in every game.
After two 12-yard catches in the opening rout of Louisiana-Lafayette, Brown had two receptions again the following week at South Carolina, including a career-long 31-yarder. He had a 9-yard reception against the Gamecocks in the first quarter to convert a third down, and he converted third downs in the second half against Arkansas and Mississippi State with 10-yard gains.
"I'm impressed with how far he's come in a year," senior receiver Kris Durham said. "He's one of those guys who is a worker and will go in there and do the dirty work."
Said Brown: "I think it's going pretty good. I go in, do my job, catch the ball and get first downs."
Odds and ends
Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley is sticking to his plan of watching Saturday's game from home. ... Georgia's home game next week against Vanderbilt also will be televised on the SEC Network, marking the fifth lunchtime kickoff for the Bulldogs this season. ... The Bulldogs normally work out for 60 minutes in helmets and shorts on Mondays but began prepping for Tennessee with a 90-minute practice in full pads.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.