Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell’s future with the team is in doubt after an arrest early Friday morning on three weapons charges. The sophomore-to-be was arrested on charges of possessing a weapon in a school zone (a felony) and carrying a concealed weapon (a misdemeanor). The weapon Crowell had in possession had an altered identification mark, which is another felony. He was booked into Athens-Clarke County Jail, with bond set at $7,500.
As a result of his arrest and three charges, Crowell is facing an immediate suspension. Head coach Mark Richt has yet to issue a statement regarding the running back’s arrest.
Crowell’s incident isn’t the first bit of offseason trouble for Georgia. Cornerback Branden Smith was arrested on marijuana drug charges in March, while fellow corner Sanders Commings pled guilty to charges of battery and disorderly conduct. Commings is expected to miss the first two games of 2012.
In addition to the issues at cornerback, linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo are facing suspensions for violating team rules.
Crowell came to Georgia ranked as one of the top running backs in the 2011 recruiting class. He played in 12 games as a true freshman, rushing for 850 yards and five touchdowns. Although Crowell had a solid debut, he was suspended one game for a failed drug test and dealt with injuries throughout the second half of last year.
Considering Crowell’s inability to stay on the field last year, Georgia has experience using other running backs and wasn’t counting on him to carry the entire workload this year. Richard Samuel is moving to fullback in 2012, but rushed for 240 yards and one touchdown on 82 attempts in 2011. Ken Malcome closed out last season by rushing for at least 37 yards in each of the last four games. He recorded a season best 51 yards in the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State.
Will Georgia’s SEC Title Hopes Suffer Without Crowell?
Crowell was a top talent, but Georgia’s SEC East title hopes remain intact. And frankly, losing Crowell isn’t a huge blow to the team. The Bulldogs return quarterback Aaron Murray, along with 10 starts on defense. The schedule is very favorable, as Georgia misses Alabama, Arkansas and LSU in crossover games with the West.
While Crowell’s playing career in Athens could be finished, the Bulldogs won’t miss a beat on the ground.
Coach Mark Richt recruited two highly-rated backs, with Keith Marshall ranking as the No. 15 overall prospect in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100, while Todd Gurley checked in as the No. 11 running back in the nation.
Marshall checks in at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, while Gurley is a bigger option at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. Both backs have good speed and can contribute right away in 2012.
In addition to Marshall and Gurley’s arrival, Georgia has other potential contributors in Samuel and Malcome. Although neither player possesses the gamebreaking ability of the freshmen, both are expected to figure into the workload.
The Bulldogs are the early favorites to win the SEC East in 2012, but it won't be easy to hold off South Carolina once again. The Gamecocks have some key losses on both sides of the ball, and running back Marcus Lattimore is returning from a torn ACL. However, quarterback Connor Shaw played well in the second half of 2011, and the defensive line is one of the best in college football.
Georgia’s biggest question mark is its offensive line, which loses center Ben Jones and tackles Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson.
Considering this isn’t Georgia’s first incident this offseason, Crowell’s arrest should be a big deal for Richt. Although Crowell has five-star talent, Richt has to wonder if it’s really worth the trouble to keep him around.
Whether or not Crowell is on the team in 2012, it shouldn’t have a major impact on Georgia’s 2012 SEC and National Title hopes.
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