Mention the Georgia Bulldog game plan for 2010 and you are likely to hear a common refrain: Run. The. Ball.
At the beginning of the 2009 season, the Dawgs had potential in Richard Samuel, pure talent in Caleb King, lightning in Carlton Thomas, and possibility in Washaun Ealey.
The inconsistent and, at times, poor performance of the offensive line meant some serious growing pains with this young group of tailbacks as Richard Samuel and Caleb King were unable to maintain their performance levels from week-to-week.
This meant many fans were left wondering when the feast would offset the famine where the running game was concerned.
Enter Washaun Ealey, and the game suddenly changed for the Dawgs—beginning with a win over Vanderbilt.
And, as the 2009 season came to an end, the performance of both Caleb "I Run This State" King and Washaun Ealey eased the worries of many a Bulldog fan and banked some good will toward next season's possibilities.
However, not content to stand pat, the coaching staff is still on the recruiting trail looking for more talent to fill-in the running ranks—particularly since it's looking more likely Richard Samuel will move to linebacker and Carlton Thomas will be relegated to specialty packages.
Several prospects have been scoped out by the team, but only a few have offers on the table.
Ken Malcome (pictured), Southwest Dekalb High School, Decatur, GA (Verbal Commitment)
The first thing that catches your attention about Malcome is his downhill, aggressive running style. He is not a finesse guy and doesn't rely on jukes or spins to get his yards—he is full-throttle, smash-mouth, and in-your-face.
He runs the ball between the tackles and craves contact. His 6'0'', 212-pound frame is not shy about dragging defenders along the ground in an effort to pick up big yards on a play.
His vision is good and he is content to wait for holes to develop rather than spending time running around looking for them to open.
He committed to the Dawgs during the summer and has been solid ever since.
Marcus Lattimore, James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan, NC
Lattimore is the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation according to Scout.com and the Dawgs are in the hunt for this talented tailback who shone brightly in the Shrine Bowl Game over the weekend.
At 6'0'', 207 pounds, Lattimore has nice size for the position, and his skill set is very impressive.
His biggest strength is his ability to get yards after contact. He has great strength and utilizes his power to his advantage.
He's not lightning quick, nor does he possess an arsenal of finesse moves, but he has above-average instincts on the field and uses his phenomenal field vision to find the holes he needs to get the yards.
Georgia looks to be making a push toward guys like Malcome and Lattimore who can move the line of scrimmage in their favor.
Fans need only remember the games this season where 3rd-and-short, 4th-and-short, were a problem to get the "why?" of this focus—not to mention, with Caleb King, Washaun Ealey, and Dontavius Jackson already on roster, we need more power backs to balance out the finesse game at Georgia.
Marcus Lattimore has listed the Dawgs as one of his top choices, but it will be a dogfight until the very end to land this prospect as both Auburn and South Carolina are in the mix as well.
Mustafa Green, Irmo High School, Columbia, SC
Green is 6'0'', 200 pounds, and is another gifted runner out of the Carolinas. He has a bit of an injury history, but despite missing six games this season, he still managed to tally over 1,300 yards on the ground while scoring 21 touchdowns.
He's another north-south type of runner with great balance and field vision. Like Malcome and Lattimore, he's not a blazer, but he's got a knack for finding holes quickly and getting good bursts through them.
Even more, he gets good pad level on his runs and uses his power and strength to muscle through tackles and gain positive yards.
He's an every-down type of back with a ton of potential.
Brandon Gainer, Miami Central High School, Miami, FL
This 5'11'', 200-pound dynamo of a runner has playmaker written all over him. He is elusive, fast, and possesses great field vision; he is an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield and is not an easy target to bring down.
Gainer is the focal point of his team's offense at Miami Central, and it utilizes his skill-set to its maximum ability.
That fact does beg the question of how he would adapt to a significantly reduced role in a college offense in which he is likely to be less of a featured player and more a role player—an attitude shift would be required early.
Aside from that, though, Gainer is the kind of player who is capable of making things happen whenever he gets the ball in his hands. He is a difference maker with an endless amount of potential as an offensive weapon.
Florida State appears to have the inside track on this one, but Georgia has an outside chance of landing him as well—an offer is definitely on the table.
With their selections, the Dawgs are looking to bolster an already improving and maturing running back corps with an influx of new talent that will add some thunder to the lightning they already have on this team.
*Photo courtesy of scout.com
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