The last player to lead the Bulldogs in rushing in back-to-back years was Robert Edwards in 1996 and 1997. And while having a career like Edwards’ would be outstanding, Brown has his sights set on Garrison Hearst’s three-year tear through the Georgia record book from 1990 to 1992.
“I don’t focus on individual goals,” said Brown of leading the team in rushing. “It’s still somewhat of a goal. Its something I am well aware of – it would be nice to have.”
In the meantime, Brown will have to hold off Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware, both of whom have started in the past.
“It’s tough. Everyone is getting better,” Brown said of the competition this August. But the Atlanta native is Georgia’s number one back according to offensive coordinator Neil Callaway.
"Thomas Brown has separated himself," Callaway told the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook earlier this season. "We're not afraid to play the other two guys, and we will, but Thomas has done enough to put himself ahead of the other two."
Brown might not get the carries needed to have career statistics to rival Herschel Walker (5,259), Hearst (3,232), Lars Tate (3,017), Rodney Hampton (2,668) or Kevin McLee (2,581) – the top career rushers in Georgia’s history – because of sharing the load with Lumpkin and Ware.
“When I first got here sharing carries was something I had to get used to,” Brown said. “In a lot of ways I think it is best to share it with guys because you are taking a lot of pounding off your body. A lot of guys carry the call 25 times a year, and that takes a toll on your body especially when you are talking about an NFL career after college. It could hurt you later.”
Sharing carries is a part of Mark Richt’s plan to keep Georgia’s running game steady, and its running backs healthy.
“Football is a tough game. If you got one guy carrying it 20 to 25 times a game, especially if it's a two- or three-year career, that guy's going to get beat up,” Richt said. “I think if we took any one of those three guys in the season and made them the horse, so to speak, they'd get 1,200 to 1,500 yards. I think all three of them are capable of that.”
And bruising might be Browns’ middle name.
“He is a real strong, fast runner and he’s quick,” said Vanderbilt linebacker Jonathan Goff. “He always runs hard and hits you harder.”
“He is going to come at you,” Callaway added.
Brown only had one 100-yard game last season (144 yards vs. South Carolina), but only had two 20-carry games (South Carolina and Tennessee).
“Most people measure a running back by the amount of yards they have,” Brown said of his pursuit of 100-yard performances.
The tailback averaged 12 carries and 61 yards a game last year. Now he is looking for his best year yet, no matter the number of carries.