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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Tailbacks

Through a decade of success, there have been plenty of players who have made their mark in a Georgia uniform, and for the next two weeks, The Telegraph will be giving you the chance to vote on your picks for the Bulldogs’ All-Decade team for the 2000s. We’ll go position-by-position, and you’ll pick the winners by going to www.macon.com/decade to vote.

Our 14th ballot is for Georgia’s top running back of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as Georgia’s starter in parentheses.)

Musa Smith (2001-2002). A two-year starter at Georgia, Smith was a bruising back who carried Georgia to the 2002 Sugar Bowl by racking up the team’s first 1,000-yard season in 10 years. He was an All-SEC selection that year and totaled 1,324 yards rushing, the seventh-best single-season tally in school history. He played in 13 games that season, and topped the 100-yard mark nine times, including a 106-yard, two-touchdown effort in the SEC title game against Arkansas. For his career, Smith rushed for 2,202 yards and 19 touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He was taken in the third round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

Thomas Brown (2004-2005). A starter in parts of four seasons at Georgia, Brown was a key contributor on two of Mark Richt’s most successful teams – the 2005 SEC champions and the 2007 Sugar Bowl winners. As a freshman in 2004, Brown tallied 875 yards rushing to lead the team. It was the fourth-best mark by a freshman in school history and was highlighted by a 130-yard, three-touchdown performance against Kentucky. As a sophomore, he was part of a crowded backfield but still posted 736 yards rushing and four TDs, again the best mark on the team. Brown was injured the latter half of the 2006 season and played in just seven games, but rebounded as a senior while splitting time with upstart Knowshon Moreno to post 779 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. His 180-yard, three-TD performance against Ole Miss stands as one of the best single-game running performances of the decade. His 3,750 all-purpose yards for his career ranks as the fourth-best mark in school history. He wrapped up his career with 2,646 yards rushing, the sixth-best tally in Georgia’s record book. He was a sixth-round draft choice by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008.

Danny Ware (2004). Ware was a hard-nosed runner who had plenty of highlights, but never enjoyed the backfield by himself. As a freshman in 2004, he split time with Thomas Brown but still ran for 724 yards and four TDs and topped 100 yards against LSU and Florida and he was the first freshman tailback to start a season opener since 1943. As a sophomore, Ware got more competition in the backfield from Kregg Lumpkin, but still turned in a strong campaign, finishing second on the team with 492 yards rushing, helping Georgia to an SEC title. Ware’s role diminished as a junior in 2006 despite an injury to Brown, finishing with just 81 carries for 326 yards. He left for the NFL after his junior season having totaled 1,510 rushing yards and eight TDs in his career. He is currently a member of the New York Giants.

Kregg Lumpkin (2006). Lumpkin battled injuries throughout his career, but when healthy, he showed plenty of ability. As a freshman in 2003, Lumpkin was Georgia’s second-leading runner, racking up 523 yards and six touchdowns and appeared on the verge of greatness. An ACL injury on the first day of spring practice cost him the 2004 season, however, and two new faces – Brown and Ware – took his spot. When Lumpkin returned in 2005, his battle back to the starting lineup was slow, but he played in all 13 games on the Bulldogs’ SEC title team, collecting 335 yards and three TDs. A year later, he regained the starting job and led Georgia with 798 yards rushing and six scores, including a career best 105 yards in a shocking win over No. 5 Auburn. Injuries again cropped up in his senior season in 2007, but Lumpkin managed to secure a job in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. For his career, Lumpkin ran for 1,699 yards and 17 total touchdowns.

Knowshon Moreno (2007-2008). Perhaps no player has made more of an impact in just two seasons in Bulldogs history. Moreno burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007, rushing for 1,334 yards including a monstrous 33-carry performance in a win over Florida in which he racked up 188 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He was a freshman All-American that season and an All-SEC selection. In 2008, he was a full-fledged starter and turned in an All-American performance, rushing for 1,400 yards (fifth-best in Georgia history) and 16 touchdowns (fourth-best in school history). His 5.49 yards per carry average was the seventh-best mark of any running back in a career at Georgia, and his 19.2 carries per game average was the second best. He is one of just two tailbacks in school history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.

So, who gets your vote? Go to www.macon.com/decade to cast your ballot or vote in our previous categories, and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 27th issue of The Telegraph to find out the winners.

And don't forget to leave your comments here on the blog. Tell us about why you made your selection and your favorite memories of those players, and your comments could appear in our final results issue of The Telegraph.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

this vote is alot like that with pollack. its really who should be 2nd team behind my man Knowshon.

stan p said...

Check out this article from the Denver Post's Woody Paige about Knowshon:
http://www.denverpost.com/paige/ci_14045600?source=rss

Anonymous said...

Agreed with anon. This needs a second place poll.

Anonymous said...

Although already much known and loved in Bulldawg Nation, I think the day Knowshon started leaping over defenders was the day we all fell in love with him. I will never forget the crowd reaction right afterwards. You don't come across a new Knowshon every season.

Todd said...

Woody Paige is a moron. In his article, he completely argues against the very point he's trying to make - that Moreno is overrated. Yet he admits the QB pretty much is ineffective, the O-line sucks, and the coaches aren't doing a good job calling the game. He misses one other point - that Moreno is sharing playing time with #28 (forget his name). Yet he expects a rookie RB to make history? What he fails to mention, even though the Broncos have problems, Moreno is the the leading rookie RB in the NFL. I applaud the Denver coaches for doing one thing right - not expecting a rookie RB carry the team. I think they're doing a good job of transitioning him to the NFL. If Moreno does top 1000 yards, despite the problems Denver has, Paige should man up and admit he's a moron, something most of us already know anyway.

Anonymous said...

you can just smell the bourbon coming off the screen as you read his articles. Mmmmm woodford reserve, you stay classey Woody Paige.

Anonymous said...

Dear Woody Paige:

1) Knowshon's a rookie.
2) He splits carries.

Yours truly,
Not an idiot

Anonymous said...

The other thing that Woody Paige is overlooking is that Denver is in the process of transitioning from Shanahan's cut-blocking schemes to McDaniel's more conventional blocking schemes, which rely on bigger linemen. So Knowshon is suffering from having OL who are really too small to block in the system they're using this year. Once they get the right OL in place, they'll be similar to the way the Falcons became once they got past the Alex Gibbs era (where the league's most elusive QB got sacked repeatedly because they OL could cut block for rushers but were too small to pass block effectively).

Anonymous said...

Lumpkin was always my favorite of that threesome. He was head shoulders better than the other two before the acl injury. He was never really the same after that.

helen said...

Do you want more interesting?
Joe DeCamillis has been around a few kickers that have played a long time in the NFL Draft (Jason Elam, Morten Andersen) and he believes Nick Folk will be one of them, too.
The Cowboys cut Folk Monday after missing 10 field goal attempts this year and signed Shaun Suisham.
"He works his craft the way you're supposed to work it, so it was a difficult decision obviously," DeCamillis said. "You don't want to see anybody struggle and he was struggling. I think he even knew it. I've got the utmost respect for him, wouldn't surprise me if he started kicking well again the league. He just kind of went into a little funk and unfortunately we couldn't get him out of it. It's disappointing on my part because you hppe to do something to revive it and get him going in the right direction and it just didn't happen."
Merry Christmas!And have a good time!