Brown, Lumpkin, Ware ready to shine for Bulldogs
Sept. 1, 2005
By Leland Barrow
There has never been much distance between Georgia's three tailbacks.
Danny Ware, Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin all grew up in the northern half of Georgia. During their early teenage years, they all routinely ended up in end zones around the state while attending Rockmart, Tucker and Stephenson high schools, respectively. And now, all man the Bulldogs' crowded backfield in Athens.
But each of Georgia's backs has had a different journey en route to the 2005 season, which opens with Boise State in Sanford Stadium on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Ware did not enroll at Georgia until January of 2004. In his first year out of high school in 2003, the 6-foot-1 tailback attended Hargrave Military Academy and tallied 653 yards and four touchdowns. Ware split time with Brown last season, starting eight games, rushing for 724 yards and scoring four times. Going into his sophomore season, Ware is pumped about again getting his hands on the ball.
"I'm about to go crazy to get on that field," Ware said with a laugh. "I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight or tomorrow night."
Brown, the lightest of the backfield bunch, also possesses some of the quickest feet on the team (proven by his 875 yards and eight scores in 2004) and strongest arms (proven by his record-breaking pace in the weight room). Leading the Bulldogs to a win over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl with 111 yards, Brown is again looking to punish Georgia's SEC competition and beyond in 2005 with the help from his teammates.
"I think that's one of the advantages that we have," Brown said. "With us having so many tailbacks we can keep playing all game long and stay fresh all four quarters."
The third component in the Bulldogs' backfield, and the one who fans will probably be most intrigued with seeing, is Lumpkin. After suffering a knee injury in his first preseason practice of the year in 2004, he was redshirted. Following a freshman campaign in which he rushed for 523 yards and six touchdowns off the bench, Lumpkin has been eagerly awaiting his return to the Bulldogs' lineup.
According to Georgia coach Mark Richt, Lumpkin has shown all the signs of a full recovery.
"He's run the ball extremely well," Richt said. "I've really seen him do nothing but answer questions for myself and the rest of the coaching staff rather than make us ask questions."
Complementing Georgia's three weapons behind the line of scrimmage are Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs' new running backs coach and former Georgia captain, and another pair of players who have also shown glimpses of greatness during their careers. Tyson Browning, who took a fourth-quarter screen pass 93 yards for a touchdown in the 1993 LSU game, and Tony Milton, who is expected to make his presence felt as a reserve tailback/fullback and on special teams, are both capable of making impacts during the 2005 season.
Tailbacks Danny Ware, Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown with Uga VI.
When kickoff arrives on Saturday, one of Richt's methods of putting points on the scoreboard against the Broncos is fairly clear.
"Those three backs need to touch it a good bit," Richt said. "We still feel like Thomas Brown is the starting tailback and Danny Ware is the second one in, but Lumpkin definitely deserves to play and will play. We really haven't sat down to say how many touches each guy will have, but we have some sets where Thomas or Danny or Kregg can flex out wide. They're very versatile. They all catch the ball well, protect well and run well."
"We've got great running backs," senior center Russ Tanner said. "They know how to run the ball when we give them a crease. Hopefully this is going to be a year when we really come together and be a really dominant team."