January 13, 2008

Moreno among elite

There's a well-known saying that states people are often judged by the company they keep.

In the case of Knowshon Moreno, that company is a variable Who's Who of some of the best-known running backs ever to play the game.

In the SEC, the 1,334 yards that Moreno gained in 2007 is the fourth-highest total for a freshman in the conference, trailing all-time Bulldog great Herschel Walker (1,616 yards in 1980), former Tennessee star Jamal Lewis (1,364 in 1998) and Florida's Emmitt Smith (1,341 yards in 1997).

But that's not all.

Moreno's total was the 15th-most by a freshman since 1968, a group that includes some of the best known runners to ever play the game.

It's a prestigious group to be sure.

Take a look at some of the other names on the list of freshman 1,000-yard: Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma, freshman record 1,925 yards on 2004), Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh, 1,586 in 1973), and Marshall Faulk (San Diego State, 1,429 in 1991).

"I didn't envision this. I just wanted to come in, and if they guys needed a break I would go in and get a couple of players and do whatever and then come out," Moreno said. "I didn't really expect this, really."

What's just as impressive is some of the players Moreno surpassed on the list.

Current New England Patriot Laurence Maroney (Minnesota, 1,121 yards in 2003) and Arkansas' Darren McFadden (1,113 yards in 2005) are just two of the names.

Moreno was No. 1 in one respect last fall.

His total was good for the top spot among freshmen in 2007 as his 1,334 yards were six more than the 1,328 by Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy.

Moreno's three game total of 157 yards against Vanderbilt, a 188-yard effort over Florida, followed by 196 yards against Troy helped place the New Jersey into the consciousness of college football fans everywhere.

"Knowshon is a fantastic ball player. He really was a big spark for us," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Especially that Florida game, when both Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin were hurt, he pretty much had to carry it every time.

"He was just a true warrior that day. He made plays for us, broke tackles, made our offensive line look a little better than we were and gave us some confidence."

With a spot on virtually every freshman all-star team in the country, much more is expected of Moreno next fall.

Ditto for the Bulldogs.

Coming off its 41-10 win over previously unbeaten, Georgia finished with a final ranking of No. 2 in the Associated Press top 25 poll and will be ranked somewhere in the preseason Top 5 later this year.

Moreno, one of 17 starters returning for the Bulldogs, is a major reason why.

"I really just wanted to help the team out as much as possible coming into the season, not knowing how many carries I was going to get," Moreno said. "When I had to jump in I wanted to keep the pace going because the guys that were there before me were doing a great job, so I didn't want to slack in any way."

Nobody will ever accuse Moreno of that.

Top freshmen rushers since 1968

Player Year Yards

Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma 2004 1,925
Ron Dayne, Wisconsin 1996 1,863
Chance Kretschmer, Nevada 2001 1,732
Herschel Walker, Georgia 1980 1,616
Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh 1973 1,586
P.J. Hill, Wisconsin 2006 1,569
Alex Smith, Indiana 1994 1,475
Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern 2005 1,474
Anthony Davis, Wisconsin 2001 1,466
Michael Hart, Michigan 2004 1,455
Marshall Faulk, San Diego St. 1991 1,429
Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss. 2006 1,388
Jamal Lewis, Tennessee 1997 1,364
Emmitt Smith, Florida 1987 1,341
Knowshon Moreno, Georgia 2007 1,334




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