Washaun Ealey will be the first to admit that his sophomore season hasn't been anything like he thought it would be.
Between a preseason arrest that resulted in a one-game suspension to troubles with fumbles against South Carolina and Mississippi State, the sophomore running back admits his confidence was a bit shaken heading into Saturday's game against Vanderbilt.
To help clear his head, Ealey got on the phone Thursday and called Milan Turner, his old high school coach at ECI.
Apparently, whatever advice he received from Turner hit home as Ealey responded with his best game of the year, a 17-carry, 123-yard effort with one touchdown that helped carry Georgia to Saturday's 43-0 win over visiting Vanderbilt.
"It's been tough because I've not been able to have the success I've wanted to have," Ealey said. "But I talked to my old high school coach and he gave me some advice and I asked him to pray for me and I think that helped me a lot. It was just a matter of going out and working hard every day in practice."
Ealey said Turner's words helped alleviate the pressure he had been feeling.
"He just told me to go out there and know that God has my back," Ealey said. "He said God's still going to love me whether I'm a good running back or not."
Saturday afternoon, Ealey was exactly that.
With Caleb King out while serving the first of his two-game suspension, Ealey stepped in to help pick up the slack for Georgia which outrushed the Commodores 232-58.
" We never lost confidence in Washaun. I think maybe he lost a little in himself, with fumbling the ball. The guy was trying too hard, pressing too much. What you've got to do is take your steps," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "We're just told him 'you're a running back, you've been doing it your whole life, run the ball, hit the hole and if the plays not going to be blocked, you've got to stick your head in there and get yards after contact.' I felt he did that today."
Ealey did have plenty of help.
Sophomore Carlton Thomas chipped in with 40 yards and two scores, while quarterback Aaron Murray added 36 yards on six carries.
"Both of those guys made plays," offensive lineman Clint Boling said. "They were running hard all day; we wanted to make that extra effort to help them out."
Some extra effort by Ealey sparked Georgia's first touchdown drive of the game; all two plays of it.
With the football at the Bulldog 27, Ealey took a handoff, cut right before reversing his field en route to ripping off a 58-yard run to the Vandy 15.
On the next play, Thomas scored the first of his two touchdowns and the rout was on.
"The offensive line stayed on their blocks pretty well and I just tried to stretch it and hit the space. I saw A.J. (Green) out there, he made a good block on the corner and I took advantage of that," Ealey said. "Coach has been telling us all week to just trust what we see and run the ball hard. I felt like we all did that. We went out there and finally got that monkey off our back."
Ealey hopes the he can now say the same about himself.
"I feel like I earned their trust a little bit," he said. "I've still got a lot more games where I can prove that I can protect the ball and to be that back that they want me to be."
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