Big Impact from Freshman Running Back

ATHENS - Back in high school, when Thomas Brown was making Georgia's football coaches covet his skills, he rarely had to worry about waiting for blocks or waiting for anything else.

The Bulldogs' freshman running back gained 1,632 yards as a junior and another 941, plus 17 touchdowns, in seven games as a senior at Tucker High School. Despite a knee injury that prematurely ended his prep career, he was named to SUPERPREP'S All-America team and All-South team.

Thomas Brown didn't even have to do everything just right to put up all those numbers. Now he does, which is something he learned Monday after watching tape from last Saturday's Marshall game.

Brown led all rushers with 81 yards in that game, and, "after the game, I thought I played pretty well," he said.

That was before he heard his coach talk about all the holes he missed and then saw it for himself on game film.

"After watching the film, I feel horrible," he said.

Brown's main mistake, lack of patience, is common for young backs, especially fast young backs, Coach Mark Richt said.

"If (the hole) doesn't look real pretty, they'll bounce," Richt said. "Back in high school, they'd outrun everybody for a touchdown. In our league, you have to stick it in there sometimes even if it doesn't look just right."

Against Marshall, Brown "muscled his way for a few good gains, but if he'd of hit where he was supposed to hit, he would have helped himself. Once he gets a little better feel of where his blocks are coming from, he's going to be a heck of a runner."

Brown is averaging 50 yards per game this year, second-best on the team, and he is expected to enter the Oct. 2 LSU game as the Bulldogs' No. 2 tailback behind Danny Ware. It's just the sort of impact Richt expected when he made a commitment to Brown a year and a half ago in Richt's office.

Brown and his father came to Athens for an unofficial visit the summer prior to Brown's senior year.

"(Richt) told me they were recruiting other backs, but if I would commit to them, no other other backs would come here," Brown said. "That meant a lot to me."

A week later, Brown brought mom and dad back and made it official. True to his word, Richt cut off contact with every other running back in the country, including the highly sought after Darius Walker of Buford, who is now making an early impact at Notre Dame.

Regardless of how well Walker plays in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus, Richt is happy with the player he got. Brown made an instant impression during summer workouts earlier this year.

The 183-pounder by bench pressing 390 pounds and squatting 520 pounds. His power index, a measure of pound-for-pound strength, is the highest on the team. Only two Bulldogs (Thomas Davis and wide receiver Reggie Brown) have a power index higher than 6; Browns' is 6.56.

"He's fast, he's strong, he's relentless in his running," Richt said. "We got our man, I'll tell you that right now."

NOTES: Starting center Russ Tanner sat out Wednesday's practice due to a bruised left shoulder. He expects to return soon and be ready to play against LSU. ... Starting defensive tackle Kedric Golston missed practice due to a shoulder injury. He is expected to return Monday. ...

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