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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brown Ready for Delivery

As one of the highest rated wide receiver recruits in the country, Marlon Brown had already ratcheted up expectations for his college career by simply playing so well in high school.

The breakout freshman season A.J. Green enjoyed at Georgia last year was part of what drew Brown to Athens, but it also casts a long shadow over Brown's first season in red and black, and the newcomer is bound to be held to the nearly impossible standard Green set a year ago.

And now that the Bulldogs are down to just six scholarship receivers -- and only two with significant game-day experience -- even the coaching staff at Georgia, a group usually resigned to toning down the rhetoric surrounding big-name recruits, is reluctantly relying on Brown's success as part of this year's offensive game plan.

It's a lot to expect of an 18-year-old who has yet to run a single route at practice at the college level, but Brown isn't stressing. He's just preparing.

"It makes me a little nervous and puts on a little pressure, but it's alright," Brown said. "I have thought about (the expectations) a lot, but I'm just working hard and going in and seeing what happens."

He's underselling his work ethic just a bit. True, he's doing a good bit of waiting, but that's simply what the schedule dictates. Real practices won't begin until August, but in the meantime, Brown is recreating the experience as closely as he can.

"I've just been working out a lot, running a lot, lifting a lot, doing the playbook stuff with Coach (Tony) Ball a lot," Brown said.

Once practice does begin, Brown thinks his transition to the SEC will get an early test that will have him ready for game day.

"I think playing against the DBs at Georgia during the summer is going to give me a boost in my game big time," Brown said.

The cool confidence and detailed work regimen closely resemble the path Green followed a year ago.

While Green provides a lofty standard by which many fans will judge Brown's ultimate success, he also has laid out the template for Brown to follow in achieving that success.

On signing day, Green was the first to know that Brown was headed to Georgia. During the recruiting process, the two became fast friends, sharing a similar outlook on life and what it takes to achieve their goals on the football field. It was a similar bond to the one Green found with senior Mohamed Massaquoi last year, and the mentor-protoge relationship helped both to post dominant seasons.

Brown said he hopes he and Green can find similar results in 2009, and he has already been asking his older teammate for advice.

"He just told me that he asked a lot of questions," Brown said. "If he didn't know something, he asked questions. If he wasn't sure about something, he talked to Mohamed and asked questions. So I'm just getting comfortable asking questions."

There will no doubt be plenty more situations Brown must get comfortable with during the next few months, and it's certainly possible that a large portion of Georgia's offensive success this season will depend on how well he makes those adjustments.

While Brown understands his role will be crucial this season, he knows nothing is guaranteed. Yes, he was a top recruit. Yes, he's following in the footsteps of one of the SEC's best freshman wide receivers in years. And yes, he'll have plenty of opportunities to prove he was worth all the hype this season.

Brown has thought about all of that, but his first order of business isn't fulfilling the hype. It's proving he was deserving of it in the first place.

"I have thought about that but right now I have no idea how I'm going to be this summer or in the season," Brown said, "so I'm just riding it out and working hard."

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