If Marlon Brown blew a route, block or catch during his first two seasons as a Georgia receiver, it wasn't the world's biggest deal.
The Bulldogs had the always acrobatic A.J. Green to make the offense go, and the reliable Kris Durham kept things steady a year ago. It's different this season for Brown, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound junior from Memphis, and he knows it.
"A.J. is gone and Durham is gone, and I feel like it's my time to step up and make some plays," Brown said Monday night after practice. "It's not really as much about the pressure being on me as it is knowing that they're not here anymore and that I can't depend on them to come back and make plays. I feel like I have waited my time and that I'm a lot more confident."
Brown had 11 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown last season but didn't have any in the last seven regular-season games with the exception of a threecatch effort against Idaho State. He ranks third among Georgia's returning players in receptions behind Tavarres King and tight end Orson Charles and has followed a solid G-Day spring game with an even better preseason.
Asked this past weekend which player stood out the most during the first two weeks of practice, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo singled out Brown.
"I am really, really pleased with how he has played," Bobo told reporters. "He's in great condition, he's more flexible, he's running harder, he's in shape and he's making the kind of catches, both over the middle and on the outside, that you want to see."
The Bulldogs were pleased on signing day in 2009 when they snagged Brown from Lane Kiffin and Tennessee. He had totaled 1,785 all-purpose yards as a Harding Academy senior, but his freshman numbers at Georgia produced two catches for 15 yards.
Last year was an improvement, but not a gigantic one.
"I knew coming in my freshman year that I was going to need a lot of work to be an SEC receiver," he said. "I'm not really upset with how anything has gone. I thought I was patient, and I realized it was a learning process. A.J. taught me to be confident in myself and that if nobody else believes in me, I've got to believe in myself."
Brown said he knows the position much better entering his third season. He has more confidence in his blocking ability and added that nothing his improved more than his route running.
"I was watching film with Tavarres one day earlier this summer, and we were watching old clips from our freshman and sophomore year," he said. "We were like, 'Man, look at those sorry routes we were running. What was going on?'
"I feel a lot smoother as a receiver now."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs worked out for 90 minutes Monday following their first day of classes. ... Tailbacks Isaiah Crowell (groin) and Richard Samuel (strained quad) couldn't go, and head coach Mark Richt expects Crowell to return later this week but Samuel not until next week. ... Touted freshman outside linebacker Ray Drew is not expected to practice this week after separating his shoulder Sunday when he was thrust from his scooter on his way back from church and landed on his helmet and shoulder. ... The Bulldogs will not practice today and will scrimmage for a second time Wednesday.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.