From the moment Caleb King stepped on campus at the University of Georgia, the Bulldog Nation had him tabbed as Georgia’s next great back. There were even comparisons between King and Georgia’s Heisman-winning tailback, Herschel Walker.
Most would agree—even outside the Bulldog Nation—that there will never be a running back with the same impact or ability as Herschel Walker, but the fact that these comparisons were being made filled fans with a lot of excitement.
King’s first season in Athens ended in a redshirt, but expectations were not lowered for the five-star recruit out of Greater Atlanta Christian.
In 2008, as a redshirt freshman, King was the second-leading rusher on the team, however, he was the backup for Knowshon Moreno, so he didn’t exactly see the field on a regular basis.
King’s time came in 2009.
Hampered by injuries before the season, King had to give the starting tailback spot to Richard Samuel. As King recovered, the ground attack for the Georgia Bulldogs struggled, and as King began to show that he would be a sufficient feature back for the Dawgs, the running game still needed more.
Enter true freshman Washaun Ealey.
As a four-star recruit out of Twin City, Ealey was expected to produce, but many did not expect him to in 2009. With veteran running backs Richard Samuel, Caleb King, and Carlton Thomas on the depth chart, the chances of Ealey seeing the field in 2009 seemed slim.
However, five games into the season, Georgia’s running game was abnormally near the bottom of the SEC ranks. In game six against LSU, the Bulldog offense needed a spark outside of AJ Green. Mike Bobo found that spark in Washaun Ealey.
The sight of a No. 24 trotting onto the field in red and black gave the Bulldog Nation good vibes, and Ealey did not disappoint. Washaun did not light the scoreboard up or even have an outstanding statistical game, but he did show the ability to run between the tackles and create something out of nothing.
Although the Bulldogs went 4-3 after the LSU game, the Bulldog ground attack came to life, and the tailback tandem of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King took over.
As the season came to a close, Ealey and King’s stats improved. In the final six games, King and Ealey combined to rush for 1,054 yards, 10 touchdowns, and zero fumbles.
As the season progressed, King showed the desire that many thought had been missing—including playing with a broken jaw—and Ealey began to truly understand the offense. These two things resulted in opposing defenses being torn apart.
The Georgia Bulldogs enter the 2010 season with high hopes for easily the second-best running back tandem in the SEC (behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson).
With a veteran offensive line and a freshman quarterback, King and Ealey will be called upon frequently to do what they do best: run the ball. Caleb King himself has stated that he expects both he and Washaun Ealey to run for at least 1,000 yards a piece.
With 2,000-plus yards on the ground in a season, it would seem that the Bulldog offense had gone back to the smashmouth days of Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker, but, quite honestly, I don’t think anyone in the Bulldog Nation would object to that.
No, there will never be another player like Herschel Walker, but maybe, just maybe, No. 3 and No. 4 can have the same kind of production as the best player to ever play Between the Hedges—No. 34.