Brown powers his way to #1 RB

ATHENS – All anyone wants to know at Georgia's football practices this preseason is who the quarterback will be. However, if early indications are any sign, the attention may shift a little deeper in the backfield once the games actually begin.

That's where the most dominant Bulldog of the fall lines up – junior tailback Thomas Brown.

"I've just been really impressed with Thomas Brown," Coach Mark Richt said. "He just plays with a super high energy and really tremendous focus and every single play seems like it's the national championship to him."

Georgia is not scrapping its three-tailback rotation of Brown and fellow juniors Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware, but in the first two weeks of practice, Brown has continued what he started in spring practice, that is, widening the gap between No. 1 and Nos. 2 and 3.

Brown has been one of the strongest players on the team since he came to Athens, and he elevated even that part of his game this summer, setting UGA running back records in the bench press (470 pounds), squat (610 pounds) and power clean (347 pounds). His power index (total weight lifted divided by body weight) of 7.55 is the highest ever recorded at the school.

Still, Brown's biggest change this season has been mental, he said.

"Ever since I've come here, I've had the physical ability," he said. "You have to have somewhat of a cocky attitude. When I came here, I was extremely humble. Sometimes, I was a little too humble, and I kind of doubted myself at times. You kind of have to get a cocky attitude, not arrogant or conceited, but you have to think you're the No. 1 guy and you have to step up and fill that hole."

Last year, Brown had 147 carries to Ware's 101 and Lumpkin's 66. The trio combined for 1,563 yards and helped Georgia to become the third-best rushing team in the SEC, with 2,108 yards overall on the ground.

"It was really a good tailback year, it just wasn't one guy getting all the totes," Richt said.

Brown finished just ninth in the SEC with 61 yards per game.

"If one guy had 1,400 yards, you'd all be going crazy right now," Richt said. "If we took any one of those three guys and made them the horse, then any one of them is capable of rushing for 1,200 to 1,500 yards."

Even with an expanded role, Brown probably won't qualify as a horse in the old-school sense of the word. Richt remains committed to a tailback rotation to maintain team harmony and to protect his backs' health.

"I think you have to have at least two," he said. "It's very rare that one guy will stay healthy or have a lot left over in the end."

Richt sells the rotation to his players as a benefit for their potential futures in professional football.

"If any of them end up playing NFL ball, it sure would be nice not to have the thing that makes the most money for you, which is your body, (worn down)," he said. "It would be nice to have it as healthy as possible."

Still, it's clear after Georgia's first two weeks of workouts that Brown will be the preferred option.

"I'm just coming out here every day trying to get better," he said, "trying to become a leader, be a bigger playmaker on offense this year."

Running back who?

2005 statistics
Player Carries Yards Per carry TDs
Jr. Thomas Brown 147 736 5.0 4
Jr. Danny Ware 101 535 4.9 1
Jr. Kregg Lumpkin 66 338 5.1 3

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