The rise and fall of Washaun Ealey

“And I was just like ‘Man, let him run, he knows how to run.’” – Joe Cox

The 2009 LSU game is seared in the memory of the Georgia fan base because of the excessive celebration penalty called on A.J. Green, but it was also memorable in introducing us to Washaun Ealey, who had his redshirt taken off and proceeded to give the Dawgs a much-needed spark in that game.

Ealey capped off that season with a 20-carry, 183-yard performance against Georgia Tech that brought us the catchphrase “I run this state”.  We expected big things from him going into last season.

Instead, we got a hodgepodge of indifference (who can forget the poor pass blocking – and this – in the Arkansas game?) and lack of focus that led to key fumbles in the South Carolina and Mississippi State games along with the talent that manifested itself at times like the Kentucky game in which he tied the Georgia record for rushing touchdowns.

Last season, the only thing big about Ealey’s game was the level of frustration it produced.

The frustration continued into this offseason, which culminated in Ealey’s suspension less than a week after Georgia had signed its most heralded running back recruit in years.  That’s not just a case of bad timing; that’s the sign of someone who doesn’t think he’s going to be held accountable.

And now, having guessed wrong on that, he’s gone.

“I hate to see him go,” said Milan Turner, who coached Ealey at Emanuel County Institute, but said he had not yet reached Ealey on Monday night. “I was really hoping it would work out for Washaun and for the University of Georgia. It’s a privilege to play there. We’ve known Washaun’s had some incidents here and there that have kind of gotten him in trouble. Who knows the ins and outs? That’s something that will be between him and Georgia football and hopefully they’ll part ways on good terms.”

The notable part of the story isn’t that Georgia loses its leading rusher from last season (and by the way, that’s not even close).  It’s that Mark Richt is willing to part ways with Georgia’s leading rusher from last season.  And that he clearly intends for Ealey’s tumultuous offseason to serve as a lesson to his former teammates.  Given the earlier warning, I can’t say that Ealey’s departure is that big a shock.  But I still haven’t gotten over my surprise that Richt had the stones to draw a line in the sand in the first place.

Crowell will no doubt get most of the attention from the move, but I’m hoping that it lights a fire under Caleb King, another gifted high school running back who’s shown flashes on occasion and has also had his share of lapses.

… McClendon said he is focused now on helping Ealey and recruiting this spring.

“I’m sure all that other stuff,” he said, “is going to sort itself out with what guys do on the field.”

It seems a message has been sent.  We’ll see if it’s been received.

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  The bottom line from Gentry Estes is pretty cut and dried.

… As for Ealey, this is what happens when determined coaches lose faith. We’ve passed the era of second and third and fourth changes (sic, I think) at Georgia. This team needs to win now, and no matter what you may believe, know that Monday’s events were part of that design.

Design.  Would we have seen Richt do this a year ago, had Ealey’s transgressions happened then?  I doubt it.

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43 Comments

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43 responses to “The rise and fall of Washaun Ealey

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Sounds like the grumbling and bad attitude persisted with Ealey and he was finally cut loose. King can handle the load if he would get his head screwed on right. Malcome could be a solid #2 or #3. We just better hope Crowell is all that he’s hyped to be.

  2. TennesseeDawg

    Richard Samuel back at RB?

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    Compare and contrast with the next post down column.

    • Spence

      That’s a credit to Richt’s recruiting that we have 3 remaining rbs that could play at most SEC schools. Spurrier obv does not have that luxury at qb.

  4. NC Dawg

    Can’t say he doesn’t deserve it or hasn’t earned the dismissal, but it’s still a sad commentary on things. Still, way to go, coach. You’ve drawn a line and have to stick to it.

  5. Krautdawg

    What’s the over/under on quotes about cancerous players popping up over the next week?

  6. simpl_matter

    Are we cancer-free now??

  7. I hate to say “good riddance” to any player who wore the red and black, but if Richt was going to alumni clubs around the state after G-Day and telling people he still wasn’t sure whether Ealey would see much playing time, it’s not a rush to judgment to infer that there were some attitude/effort issues on Ealey’s part.

    I wish him the best wherever he goes, but if the O-line can get it together, then between King, Malcome and Crowell I think we’ll be all right.

  8. Mike

    Brandon Spikes could not be reached for comment

  9. Kobby

    Boy did I swing and miss on this one. A few weeks ago I thought that CMR was trying to motivate with his comments to the media but instead he was airing a very real disappointment in a public forum.

  10. ChicagoDawg

    Of course this will become about Crowell and Richt’s mis-calculations. If Crowell doesn’t rush for 1,000yds the same folks who have asked for ‘foot up the ass Richt’ will say he ran Ealey off so as to give the job to Crowell. It won’t be Richt took a stand for discipline and sending a message, despite not having a proven commodity in the backfield. Nobs such as Bradley/Schutz will lead the narrative and sadly some among the Ga crowd will latch onto it.

  11. Mr. Tu

    I wondered aloud many times last year why Richt and Bobo insisted on giving so much playing time to Carlton Thomas-even after the suspensions were done. Perhaps he was the only one who had a decent work ethic and attitude, and the coaches thought rewarded that with playing time over the talent advantage of King and Ealey. I hope that will not be necessary this year

    • Macallanlover

      I think there is a lot of truth to that observation. Clearly Ealy and King have been disappointing and, in so many ways, they have never reached the potential people attributed to them. Thomas may not have ever become the breakaway threat we expected, but he hasn’t been in any trouble, and he seems to be giving it his best when called upon. Lot to be said for that.

      Thought CMR might get through to Ealy with his ultimatum, seems the kid is just mired in “losing”. Hope he turns it around for his sake, but he is going in a bad direction and has wasted a tremendous opportunity. Personally glad to see him go. Richt has much more patience than I do.

  12. CarefulFrilot

    He should have kept #24

  13. Normaltown Mike

    It should be noted that Ealey was likely the cause of the fumble vs UK in ’09. Recall Cox fell on the sword about that. But really, who confuses an inside handoff for a toss sweep: a 5th year QB or a freshman RB?

    Also of note, Ealey turns 22 on June 1st. “Maturity,” as measured by years on the planet, were not the cause of Washaun’s dalliances. He had a shit attitude and was no more talented than Michael Cooper, though he fancied himself the next Knowshon.

    • Hobnail_Boot

      When you’re running the other team over, you don’t call a toss sweep on the goal line.

    • Scott W.

      I think that says everything about his character. He thought that he’d just cruise through school on the merits of Moreno and be a first round pick. He had absolutely no idea about how much work he put in. Plus his age in HS athletics may have made him look better than he was in the first place.

  14. Yeah, this is the best thing for Georgia, and the best thing for Richt, all the way around. With the latest changes, everyone was sure to be tested, and Ealey failed. Ealey certainly WAS a part of the problem. There may be another, but hopefully the purging is done now, and everyone else is in.

    Nor do I think we are in trouble at RB. Thomas is out of the equation. But we have Malcome, King, and Crowell. We can go with those three without losing a beat. Not only that, but we can be a lot better, much better, with that group than we’ve been since Knowshon was here.
    ~~~

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I wouldn’t put Thomas out of the equation. He is a junior with experience. I would put him in space where he can make people miss. I don’t know why we were running him between the tackles.

    • What fresh hell is this?

      If any semblance of a running game is ever established between the tackles, Thomas could be a valuable player running outside with a little misdirection.

      • I hear what you guys are saying, and it’s legit.

        But what bothers me is Thomas doesn’t fit in our regular offense. If we use a FB, and Thomas is the RB, the defense isn’t concerned about Thomas between the tackles. He’ll get killed in there, and we risk coughing up the ball. We’ve seen that already.

        When Thomas goes outside or counters, they’ll be looking for that. Now we could put in a package for him where we set 2 RB’s, or maybe Thomas as the sole RB with several TE’s and WR’s spread, for example, but so far Bobo hasn’t elected to do that. Also, I’m not sure how comfortable I could be with Thomas anyway in terms of ball security.

        To me, we need to run the ball with the all-around RB’s we have. Get good at that. If that happens, it’ll probably be midseason. Then, maybe a Thomas package would be a change of pace, at least until he put the ball on the ground.
        ~~~

        • AthensHomerDawg

          …I hear ya. And i agree. But…. “they can look for it” is one thing.
          Can they stop it …. is another.

  15. Cojones

    Adios, muchacho. Perhaps we should thank you for being the lightning rod needed to divert player-caused dissension from the Richt-hater crowd bag of blame.

    Good move by Richt. You mess with our Coach, you get messed with. Simple.

    Now the rest of the team can follow Coach’s lead and SIC’EM DAWGS.

  16. Otto

    As others have said I hope Ealey can get back on track. I hate to a kid waste a chance like he did.

    Malcome could pass King in the RB rotation. He ran well in the spring game and is a solid downhill runner. In Bobo’s system UGA needs a RB that can hit the hole with speed and power. Malcome and Crowell look to be more built to do this than Ealey or King. Malcome also knows the playbook where Crowell does not. King has had time to lock down the job as starter and has not done so. The new guys should be given every chance to start.

    Thomas is a great weapon that has never been used correctly. He needs to get the ball in space. He is not an every down RB taking the ball between the tackles. He could be used more like how UF used Harvin slot, WR, and RB.

  17. The Original Cynical in Athens

    Unfortunately, just like Fabris and Martinez, the change was made one year too late. Coach Richt sabotaged last season from the get-go by allowing Ealey to remain on the team after his outright defiance of the coach. It sent a message to everyone that respect is optional.

    It’s nice that Coach Richt made the change now, but in hindsight, he probably also wishes that he had cut the cord last season.

    Hope Crowell is ready for the pressure. Hope the UGA fans can handle it if he is not Herschel.

    • Regular Guy

      I didn’t advocate kicking Ealey off the team last year when he got in the fender-bender, but I thought the punishment should have been much more severe. It’s one thing if he’s out driving with a suspended license — it’s a whole different thing when the coaches know about it and specifically instruct him not to drive, and he does it anyway.

      I remember emailing with my buddies at the time and I said Richt should announce it as a 6 game suspension, with the opportunity to have it reduced to 4 if Ealey met certain requirements…..but they should be strict requirements, some combination of running sessions, tutoring, etc……put together a strict set of guidelines for him to follow, if he followed them, he could get back after 4 games. If he didn’t meet them, then you pretty much knew it was never gonna work, and this situation would have been resolved already (he could still come back after 6 games, but missing that much of the year, would be largely relegated to the bench and the transfer would have been announced shortly after the season). I realize with our tailback situation at the time (and of course AJ’s NCAA status in limbo at the time) that this would have put us in a bad situation, but that was a time where Richt needed to send a BIG message. I will give Richt credit that since then, he’s been much more assertive with punishments, but like you said, he really waited too late to step up the disciplinarian side.

  18. 69Dawg

    I am sorry but I still say a lot of this falls on the position coach. We have a very young guy coaching not so young guys. We have a coach who never played the position coaching guys who have played it all their lives. This is a perfect storm for disrespect. Mc’s a nice guy and great? recruiter but he lacks the expertise and experience as a RB coach. This problem has been addressed by CMR getting rid of the player and defending his guy to the bitter end. I’m sure Crowell will be easier to coach than Ealey for MC since he recruited him.

    • Are you saying that Ealey has an attitude problem because of his position coach?

    • DawgWalker07

      I don’t buy the “if you didn’t play that position you can’t coach it” argument. I haven’t heard anyone complain about how Todd Grantham is coaching linebackers at UGA despite the fact that he has neither played linebacker or coached linebackers in his entire career.

      The point is people who rant about McClendon’s inability to coach running backs because he wasn’t one in college is just a sham to cover up for the fact that they wish Richt had gone out and hired a proven, seasoned coach for our running backs. I don’t know if McClendon can coach or not because I don’t think Caleb King or Washaun Ealey are fair samples because neither one of them have appeared mega-motivated or coachable to me. However, someone obviously respects him enough to try to hire him away from UGA which gives me more reason to give him a chance to succeed before I start blaming him for every time one of his players screws up.

    • McClendon is a football guy and a good recruiter, which means he is fully qualified to be a good RB coach.
      ~~~

  19. Dog in Fla

    “UPDATE: The bottom line from Gentry Estes is pretty cut and dried.”

    In today’s episode of ‘As the Tailbacks Turn,’ what will be the most likely result of this bottom line from Gentry Estes’ blog:

    “TWEET OF THE DAY

    Pocket full of money and I still ran out of gas…!!! Lol SMH anybody have a gas container I can borrow???”

    a. a jersey sale
    b. a trip to South Beach
    c. a loaner scooter with a full tank of gas
    d. a consolation call from Mark Emmert’s receptionist

  20. Ealey expected to play 3 years & then on to the NFL. A DGD he was not.

  21. W Cobb Dawg

    Aside from the Ealey issues, a bigger problem may be attrition. Does anyone else notice we’re loosing returning players for one reason or another at a pretty high rate? February’s 26 recruits were definitely needed – if they all qualify. Each summer we have to issue a batch of schollys to walk-ons in order to fill the 85 man roster. Combine this with some questionable talent evaluations (not to mention 2 PKs on the roster), redshirting players so they can develop, and the numbers start working against us.

    I believe the Dawgs must consider signing the limit of recruits every year (25?). Hate to risk having to pull a scholly on a returnee, but attrition usually solves the numbers problem for us. Again, the Ealey exit really exposes the team’s player turnover rate.

    Finally, I’d ask the question of whether there’s sufficient oversight of the players once they hit campus. I know APD doesn’t help the situation, but we have to get some level of control over the off-the-field issues which dog this program. I believe McGarity has made this a priority.

    • DawgWalker07

      “I believe the Dawgs must consider signing the limit of recruits every year (25?).”

      I assume you mean this in a more long-term context because you previously acknowledged that we have 26 coming in this summer, and 2 are already here. Personally, I would rather play with too few than oversign and renege our word to recruits who have trusted our coaches that they will have the opportunity to receive an education at the University of Georgia by cutting kids.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        I agree. But until we actually get into the position where it looks like we’ll pull a scholly I think we need to sign the limit. Maybe we’ve solved this issue and I’m a year late. Like I said McGarity and CMR seem to have instituted more control over off-field-issues. And of course, we did sign as many recruits as we reasonably could expect. Hopefully, problem solved. Maybe Ealey puts an exclamation point on the end of the attrition problem.

  22. Irishdawg

    I still think Caleb King can be a big contributor if he stays healthy and stops doing dumb shit. He’s got a lot of talent; he’s got good speed and balance, and he can make good moves in the open field. I hope he can get it together and have a solid senior year, so we can ease Crowell into the offense.

    • WVMtnDawg

      agreed. Crowell hasn’t done shit yet. I’m not saying he won’t be awesome, but he hasn’t walked on water yet… or hurdled NCAA defenders…

      here’s to hoping King steps up so Crowell can ease his way in.

  23. Will Trane

    Grantham has a resume, McClendon does not. Ealey had some tools, but not the kit. We will see how TG’s resume does against a top flight spread offense in the Dome. In the past it has not done too good. McClendon…well the RBs have not really set the SEC coaches to scratching their heads about how do we stop the Dawgs RBs…most times they stop themselves or their coaches do it for us…look at the 2010 game films.
    Numbers are only important on the scoreboard, and there are alot of ways to get there.
    Caleb King has been quiet. That could be a good sign that he is hard at work. He has the tools and the kit. If he is healthy, and hopefully the S&C team along with the nutrtionist will have the RB rolling in the Dome [like hash marks, numbers, sideline, endzone]. But King has been on campus for awhile, but the numbers have not been there. A solid, strong 2011 season from him would be good…and that is something he can do.
    I think CMR has a message. Study, make the grades, work, get ready to play, and hold on to the ball…or you are gone.

  24. whiskeydawg

    I wish WE could have turned a corner and lived up to his potential this year, but since that is not the case, I wish him well.