Following in Herschel's Mindset

ATHENS – Despite an already acclaimed rock star status within the Bulldog Nation, Isaiah Crowell isn't showing any signs of letting the pressure get to him.

If he is nervous, maybe he's refusing to let outsiders catch a glimpse. Or maybe he just doesn't know what he's in for yet, having just arrived in Athens this week.

"I don't really feel too much pressure right now," running back Crowell said during a recent interview.

That statement seems unbelievable, especially considering how much Crowell's commitment on National Signing Day in February meant to the Georgia program. Considering Mark Richt needs a rebound season, having seen his team stumble to a 14-12 record the past two seasons. Considering the team's leading rusher the past two years, Washaun Ealey, is no longer with the team. Considering…all the expectations, hype and hope that comes with being the next Georgia tailback.

Surprisingly, the person who did the most to initiate the increased attention on the tailback position, Herschel Walker, said he was equally as relaxed an incoming freshman himself.

"You're going to think I'm crazy, but I was too stupid to know that I had any pressure," Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982, said. "I just came to practice and to play."

With A.J. Green's departure to the NFL, Crowell is expected to be Georgia's next offensive star. A stellar career at powerhouse Carver-Columbus proves Crowell can handle exposure while still producing on a high level.

But he's yet to play a down or even go through a formal practice at Georgia. Talent abounding, the lack of experience is a scary reality.

Walker was tasked with the same adventure in 1980, with the Bulldogs in desperate need of a game-changing tailback coming off a mediocre year (6-5 in '79).

History proves Walker overcame and thrived, so his advice for Crowell should take precedence in the Internet Age, where seemingly everyone has a route to voice an opinion.

"The advice I'd give him is to do his thing," Walker, who was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, said. "You can't worry what people think about you because I tell people all the time there's people that don't love me, people that don't even like me. And I'm a great guy, I thought, but there are people that don't like me. What he's got to do is he's just got to do his thing. Just do what he can do and don't worry about it and don't worry about making mistakes."

Walker claims he didn't feel any pressure until his junior season, when he was expected to win the Heisman Trophy and was playing with a broken thumb. Crediting a great group of upperclassmen when he first arrived, Walker had two full seasons to play and grow as a player and person before he had to deal with realized attention and anticipation.

Crowell does not have this luxury. The Bulldogs are thin at tailback and kick the season off in the Georgia Dome against nationally-regarded Boise State.

All eyes will be on Crowell, whether he fully comprehends what comes with that burden or not.

"I know as the season gets closer there is going to be a lot of pressure," Crowell, who rushed for 18 scores as a senior, said. "Well I want to be the starter. Got to be a starter."

Nicknames for Crowell have already gone viral through social networking. "The Chosen One" and "The Savior" are two favorites, monikers that only strengthen the notion that Georgia has never needed a player to live up to expectations in such a short amount of time.

Walker understands fans want and seemingly need Crowell to produce early, but says Crowell must focus only on what he can do and nothing else.

"Right now everyone is looking for him to go out there and just carry this team, but all he's got to do is carry his position, carry what he's supposed to do and most of all just enjoy," Walker, who plans to meet with Crowell in person Friday, said. "You know, this was the best time of my life. I look back on everything I've ever done, I've done a lot of stuff, and my freshman year is the time, if I had to pick any time of my life and not because we won a national championship, but because of the togetherness of the team. That's what I'm going to tell him. Enjoy what he's doing, and he's going to do well."


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