Although a multitude of Georgia football fans hope Isaiah Crowell can become the next best thing to Herschel Walker, the freshman tailback is keeping his objectives a bit more simple.
"My goals are trying to play early and learning what to do and helping the team win," Crowell told reporters following Friday morning's practice.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder from Columbus spoke to the media for the first time since arriving in Athens as the nation's top-rated tailback. The hype accompanying Crowell surpasses that of any tailback since Mark Richt became the coach and, according to Richt, matches that of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who signed in 2006, and receiver A.J. Green, who signed in '08.
Stafford was the top pick in the 2009 NFL draft, and Green went fourth overall this past April.
"It's been kind of overwhelming sometimes," Crowell said of the attention. "I just try to keep a level head."
His first meeting with the media coincided with his first setback of preseason camp. He was shut down during Friday's practice because of a sore groin, and after the workout Richt listed his status as "day-to-day."
According to Crowell, it's the first groin injury of his career.
Crowell has been practicing as the No. 2 tailback behind redshirt junior Richard Samuel, but they shared first-team reps during Wednesday's first scrimmage, when the freshman rushed 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. Samuel, incidentally, also is day-to-day with a strained quad muscle.
Two other freshmen, center David Andrews and left tackle Watts Dantzler, are working with the second-team offense.
"I've made a lot of improvement on protection and learning what to do on the field," said Crowell, who added that pass protection is the biggest thing he needs to learn. Asked the biggest difference between practice in high school and college, he said, "At Carver, sometimes I sat around and did what I wanted to do."
Odds and ends
Richt was pleased with Friday's two-hour practice, especially with the play of freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who he said has made some really good progress. ... Outside linebacker Cornelius Washington and cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Derek Owens finally shed their green jerseys. ... Redshirt sophomore defensive end Derrick Lott, who injured his leg during a July scooter accident, was able to practice some.