ATHENS, Ga. – Marlon Brown knows it is coming.
Though he has played in three games, Georgia receiver Marlon Brown has been limited all season by a sprained ankle. (Photo by UGA Sports Communications)
Really, he knew it way back in Feb. 2009, when the Memphis native signed as a blue-chip prospect with Georgia instead of home-state Tennessee.
“The day I committed,” Brown said, “after I was chilling with my family and friends, I was like, ‘Man, those two times I play Tennessee, I’m going to get booed. I know I am.’”
Sure enough, Brown’s first career catch for UGA’s team came later that fall in Neyland Stadium, and it brought plenty of boos from the Volunteers’ faithful. In a way, it’s similar to what Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers – a former UGA commit – faced last year in Athens.
Only Brown never actually committed to the Vols. He did, however, grow up a Tennessee fan. In fact, he says now that he probably would have gone there had Phillip Fulmer not been fired as the Vols’ head coach during Brown’s senior season in high school.
“It was real loud at Tennessee,” said Brown when asked to compare his reception in Knoxville to what Rogers faced in Athens. “I never committed to Tennessee, but I guess they just felt like I should have went there, but whatever.”
Brown heads into his second trip to Neyland Stadium looking to prove a point, but it actually has little to do with his history regarding the opposition.
Now a junior, Brown is still looking to live up to his big-time reputation out of high school. He currently has only 15 career receptions for 182 yards through three seasons and understands that time is starting to run out.
“I have this year and next year, and that’s it,” Brown said. “So I’m just trying to just start making some more plays.”
Marlon Brown: "I have this year and next year, and that's it. So I'm just trying to just start making some more plays."
Culprits in the past for Brown’s production have been his general comfort level in the offense and the fact he was playing behind future NFL talents like A.J. Green and Kris Durham at the position.
The biggest hurdle this season has been Brown’s left ankle.
Just when he appeared to have turned a corner during a rousing preseason, Brown was hurt on the final play of camp, when defensive end Derrick Lott rolled onto his ankle after a touchdown.
“It sucked, because I play receiver, and I kind of need my ankle,” Brown said. “Having an ankle injury when it happened, it was just all bad timing, and it just sucks.”
Brown played the first two games despite the injury, but aggravated it in the process, causing him to miss the Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss games. He returned in a limited capacity against Mississippi State and is expected to play Saturday night at Tennessee.
“I’m a lot better than I was the first two games of the season, when I played on it,” Brown said. “Even last game I played on it. I feel a lot better.”
“I'd say he's not 100 percent yet,” UGA coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “He wasn't last week. He felt good enough to play, kind of strap it up and go. I'd love to get to see him get back to being 100 percent and just seeing what he can do, because he did have a really good camp.”
Brown has missed games recently along with fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten, who suffered a concussion in car accident prior to the Ole Miss game.
Since then, Wooten’s role as the No. 3 receiver has been seized by impressive freshman Michael Bennett. And Brown has now been replaced in the top two by an even more impressive freshman in Malcolm Mitchell, who is already leading Georgia’s team in receiving yards (312) and catches (22).
Said Richt of Brown and Wooten, “I don't know if these guys will be rolling back into their starting jobs or not, quite frankly” upon return from injury.
“If they’re 100 percent and I’m not 100 percent, they already have an edge over me,” Brown said. “So I’m just trying to get back in the groove of things, get back to 100 percent so I can earn my spot back. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”