Healthy Brown: Breakout year possible

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s offensive coaches and players told everyone who would listen last summer that the leading player to watch was receiver Marlon Brown -- right up until the end of training camp, when Brown suffered an injury that would hinder him throughout the season.

“It was actually our last day of camp, the last play of camp,” Brown said. “I rolled my ankle and since then it was just nagging me the whole season -- the whole season until maybe the last game of the year, until Michigan State.”

Instead of becoming the star everyone expected, Brown struggled to perform. He posted career numbers in the win against Vanderbilt with four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, but otherwise caught just 11 passes for 113 yards the rest of the season.

He said his ankle has healed, as has the torn tendon in his right ring finger that he also dealt with last season. He had surgery in February to fix the finger injury and reported “That’s fine now, too.”

Now he’s back to the form that won so much praise last preseason, leading the offense with 90 receiving yards in last Saturday’s scrimmage.

“He’s really had a good spring,” receivers coach Tony Ball said after Tuesday’s practice. “Once the pin was taken out of the finger and that healed to a degree where he could tolerate the pain, he really went to work and has been productive and has been consistent. So he’s been fun to watch.”

Now the rising senior hopes that form remains intact until the actual season, when he can finally make the impact he desires.

“For one, staying healthy,” Brown said when asked what he envisions as a successful senior year. “Just not being hurt and not having nagging little injuries that set me back from playing the way I know how to play. That would be perfect for me.”

With Saturday’s G-Day game ahead and spring practice nearly complete, Brown believes he might be better than he was last preseason, when he began garnering so much praise. For one thing, he said he has lost nearly 10 pounds, down from approximately 215 pounds to 207, and feels quicker than he did a year ago.

If Brown can stay healthy, the Bulldogs still believe the former five-star prospect has the potential to enjoy the breakout season they’ve been predicting for so long.

“Somebody that gets better every camp, every spring is Marlon Brown,” fellow rising senior receiver Tavarres King said after the Bulldogs’ first spring scrimmage. “The guy just gets so much better every time he steps on the football field and he wants to be the best, he wants to be the best at his craft.

“When I see him do things out there it pushes me, and vice versa. We tell each other when we’re doing something wrong or something right. He’s really come a long way as a receiver and I’m extremely proud of him. I’ve watched him grow and it’s amazing.”