First things first, UGA has a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. The freshman went through some serious growing pains this season but it's safe to say that the Dawgs have a potential great one with Stafford. But he can not do it alone and needs a compliment of quality players around him, especially when it comes to a ground attack.
Running backs Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin all have their senior seasons remaining. Brown will be coming off a knee injury while Lumpkin and Ware could decide to forego their final seasons in the Athens for the NFL. But that's a big "if" and certainly not known at this time. So you have to assume they are both coming back, giving Georgia three senior veterans for their rushing attack. It's interesting because they all bring something a little bit different to the table. Brown is a tough runner that plays bigger than he is but he is the smallest of this trio. Ware and Lumpkin are your big strong backs that can move a pile. Lumpkin was the most heralded of this group coming in but an early injury has held him back. Richt has also used tailback by committee because no one have emerged as their go to guy.
Last season Georgia went to New Jersey and landed Knowshon Moreno from Middleton South High School. Moreno, 5-11 and 205 pounds, was the No. 9 rated running back in the country by Scout.com. UGA has redshirted him this season despite some great things by Moreno on the Georgia practice field. He has been extremely impressive and certainly earned playing time this year. But Richt and his staff did the smart thing and redshirted him, looking towards the future, as the future shines bright with young potential standouts like Stafford and Moreno.
So has does King fit into the mix? Moreno and King will be separated only by one year. But there are some variables to consider. First, King has some work to do in the classroom. Before tranferring this past fall he spent some time in summer school in the state of Texas. There he took a science, math and spanish class, hoping to improve his grade point average. He did just that. Hopefully he is taking the necessary steps and will arrive in Athens with the other members of his class.
King, 5-11 and 196 pounds, transferred to Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian from Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview High School right before the season. He is now out for the year after breaking a bone in his leg. King was hurt on a pass play in which he came out of the backfield on a crossing route. He took a helmet to the lower leg. He finished with 939 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Last season King rushed for 2,768 yards at Parkview, the best rushing total by a junior in Georgia high school history.
So King has to make sure he is patient with his rehab and not come back too quickly. He does want to try and be ready for the U.S. Army All-American Game that is played in San Antoio, Texas on January 6 of next year. Hopefully, he is ready to go and healthy but we also hope he is not coming back too quickly.
When it comes to great running backs they usually have a defining attribute, whether it's speed, quickness, power, or all of the above. But one thing all great backs do have in common is balance. You have to have great balance to be a great back for obvious reasons. When watching King you notice many super qualities like his power and speed. But King has uncanny balance, with the ability to run right through people, run through arm tacklers and more times than not, he always maintains his balance to finish off yet another big run.
King also has the ability to accelerate at full speed out of a cut. He shows excellent vision and the ability to make people miss. King is also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield and once he has the reception in the open field he is so tough to catch or bring down.
So next season it appears that UGA will be deep at the running back position. Three seniors with loads of experience are due back, although that could change between now and mid-January if Lumpkin and or Ware decide to turn pro. Then you have to add in the youth of Moreno and King. That is certainly a formidable unit and as good as any in the SEC.
Once again Georgia will be loaded and their quarterback will have benefited through the growing pains of playing as a true freshman this year. Looking ahead, potentially the No. 1 recruit and wide receiver among the Class of 2008 has already declared that he will be a future Bulldog. That recruit is A.J. Green (Summerville, S.C.).
The bottom line is that UGA is reloading and players like Caleb King have a chance to be the next great stars at the University of Georgia.