October 5, 2009

Ealey by the numbers

When Washaun Ealey was handed the No. 24 jersey for the first time, he didn't want to put it on.

After all, that was the same number that Knowshon Moreno made famous the previous two years and Ealey wasn't sure if he wanted to deal with the burden.

"I really didn't want it at first because those are some big shoes to fill," Ealey said. "Plus, with his name being Knowshon and my name being Washaun, there were going to be the comparisons. Now, I just roll with it."

However, it appears that Ealey and the No. 24 won't be a matching set after this year.

"I hope to get No. 3," Ealey said. "I would have liked it for this year, by Bryan Evans has it and he's a senior."

But regardless of the number Ealey eventually claims as his own, it's looking more and more like the former ECI star will be seeing more time in the Bulldog backfield.

With Georgia struggling getting any consistency from Richard Samuel or Caleb King, Ealey made his debut in Saturday's 20-13 loss to LSU and made an immediate impact.

The 5-foot-11, 209-pounder picked up eight yards on his first carry, and finished with 33 on eight attempts. But while impressive, when asked about Ealey's role Saturday against Tennessee, head coach Mark Richt would only go so far as to say the freshman will see more time.

"All I can say right now is we like what Washaun did and he will definitely play and probably more than he played (against LSU)," Richt said. "To go farther, I'm not ready to go there yet. He's still a freshman, he's very young. I know he's not 100 percent certain of what to do on every single thing we do in our system. We'll just see how he progresses through the week."

Although offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that he planned to get Ealey into Saturday's game, the youngsters had no idea until position coach Brian McClendon gave him a little hint early in the third quarter.

"Coach McClendon just told me to start warming up on the (stationary) bike, that I might go in," Ealey said. "The next thing I knew I was going in."

Cox admitted he did a double take when he saw No. 24 standing in huddle for his first collegiate play.

"It was pretty funny," Cox said. "At first I was like 'Oh, great, now I've got to make sure he knows what to do' but he looked very comfortable. Everybody was like telling him, 'make sure you wrap up, hold onto the ball.' But I was like 'let him alone. Let him run, he knows what to do."

Ealey said he didn't have time to feel any nerves.

"I just tried to run hard," Ealey said. "I just tried to do what I had been doing in practice."

He joked that his cell phone hasn't stopped ringing.

"It's still blowing up," said Ealey, who doesn't even know how many calls he's received from family and friends.

"People have been asking me when I was going to play," Ealey said. "I just told them to keep watching TV."

Ealey, who set a state of Georgia high school single-game record for touchdowns in a season with 58, never doubted he would be a Bulldog.

Georgia was the only school he followed as a youngster, and committed to the school early during the recruiting process.

However, one of Georgia's bigger SEC rivals did try to get him to change his mind.

"South Carolina wanted me bad, but I always knew I wanted to come to Athens and be a Dawg," Ealey said. "They kept telling me how many backs Georgia had, that I could come in and play right away there. Plus, they said I could have my number (3). But that didn't matter. I wanted to come to Georgia.

"I'm glad that I did."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!