It wasn't long ago that Washaun Ealey was the golden boy.
He was the guy that was going to get the Georgia running game back on track. It was 2009 and Georgia was looking for a running game. Washaun Ealey was a true freshman and started to get some carries in the LSU game (which was the fifth game of the season). He really broke out in the Vandy game running 13 times for 71 yards and followed it up with a solid game against Florida where he gained 70 yards despite the Dawgs getting squashed.
The one game that probably sticks out in his mind and in fans minds from his freshman year is the Georgia Tech game. Georgia came in 6-5 and coming off of a sickening loss to Kentucky and Washaun Ealey and Caleb King ran all over Georgia Tech. Ealey ran for 183 yards on 20 carries and Caleb joined in with 166 yards. As a freshman, Washaun ran for 717 yards and Georgia fans were chomping at the bit to see how much he improved for his sophomore campaign.
Washaun's sophomore season started out with him on the bench for the Louisiana game serving a one-game suspension. In the second game of the season against South Carolina he ran the ball pretty well but made the biggest mistake of the game when he fumbled the ball in the red zone thwarting Georgia's best chance at getting back into the game and completely changing the tone and momentum. The very next week against Arkansas he missed a key block late in the 4th quarter on a 3rd down play that caused Georgia to give the ball back to Ryan Mallet and Arkansas in the closing minutes with the score tied (we all know how that turned out). And then there was Mississippi State. Georgia was trailing 7-0 in the first quarter and driving and Ealey fumbled into the end zone and it was recovered by the wrong Bulldogs. It was another fumble that was a complete momentum killer and game changer. For all his woes in 2010, he did pick apart three of the weaker defenses Georgia played as Ealey racked up a combined 398 yards and 8 TD against Vandy, Kentucky and Georgia Tech. All in all, 2010 was a year that all Georgia RBs wish they could forget.
In one year Ealey went from a guy that had hope and promise to a guy that could not hold onto the football. This isn't a bash Washaun Ealey article. There is enough blame for the 2010 season to go around for everybody. Washaun is an example of somebody having all the tools needed but just not putting it all together. After just two years, Georgia announced on Monday that it had given Washaun his "unconditional release". Mark Richt said that he's had conversations with Washaun over the last couple of weeks and they decided together that it's in Washaun's best interest to transfer to another school. Based on his dominance of lesser defenses I think he can have a really strong impact at a lower FBS school. He could be a game-changer for a Sun Belt or a C-USA team if he comes to play with his head on straight.
So what does this mean for the Georgia depth chart at RB? The road to the starting job just got a little easier for incoming Freshman Isaiah Crowell and carries might be a little more plentiful for Redshirt Freshman Boo Malcome. It also gives Caleb King a clear shot to take the #1 RB spot into the first game against Boise State and show if he can take his game to the next level as a Senior. Competition breeds success and I feel that Georgia will still have a lot of competition between King, Crowell, Malcome and even Carlton Thomas. I wonder if Mike Bobo read my lastest blog on Branden Smith?
I hope Washaun moves on from this and finds success in what he does after life at Georgia (except against Georgia). Now it's time for Georgia to move on from it's leading rusher of the past two years and give some new guys (Crowell and Malcome) and one old guy (King) a chance to breathe new life into the Georgia running game.