ATHENS, Ga. --- Left behind for Georgia's trip to the Liberty Bowl last December, tailback Caleb King tuned in from his home in Gwinnett County.
"It was hard for me," King said. "I watched a little bit of it, the beginning of the game. I couldn't finish it because I wanted to be out there with the team. When the game was tied, I just turned the TV off. I just wanted to hear about it the next morning on the computers and the newspapers."
King couldn't travel with the team to Memphis, Tenn. -- where the Bulldogs lost 10-6 to Central Florida -- because he missed five academic appointments, a violation of Athletic Association policy. So, he said he went home to work out and run.
It was another disappointment from a season of off-field issues for the program's premier tailbacks, King and Washaun Ealey.
"That situation will never happen again," King vowed recently. "I learned from it and got ready for the following season."
This will be the final season in Athens for the fifth-year senior, who will be pressed for playing time by incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell, who is rated by ESPN.com and Scout.com as the nation's No. 1 tailback signee.
"That's just a little more motivation to go in the weight room and (for) every practice," King said. "I can't wait until he comes here. I'm going to try and put him under my wings and tell him, 'Everything I did, don't do,' pretty much."
A lot of Georgia fans have pinned high hopes on Crowell as some have lost faith in King and Ealey.
"A lot of people give them grief and they've really taken it to heart," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "They've worked extremely hard and I think they're ready this season to really put Georgia back on the map when it comes to 'Running Back University.' "
King was the highest-rated in-state signee in Georgia's 2007 class -- at No. 4 according to Rivals.com. The top two were Eric Berry, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and Cam Newton, who could be a top-10 pick this year.
"I thought I was it and I really didn't have to work," King said. "I had to pretty much start over from the foundation. Now I'm working hard and getting ready for a breakout season."
King was second on the team in rushing last season with 430 yards and two touchdowns, down from 594 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009.