The Georgia Bulldogs are somewhat famous for great Running Backs. The best and most famous of all is Herschel Walker who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 and helped the Bulldogs win the national title in 1980. That was their last national championship.
Since Herschel, they have had such great backs as Todd Gurley, Garrison Hearst, Lars Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Robert Edwards, Tim Worley, Rodney Hampton and now Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
There are other schools with a history of great Running Backs. The most well known is USC with OJ Simpson, Marcus Allen and so many more. Then, there’s Auburn led by Bo Jackson. Ohio State has had quite a few and several Heisman winners like Archie Griffin and Jeff George.
Michigan has also had a bunch of top Running Backs.
I wrote a post comparing the Auburn and Georgia Running Backs: Georgia vs Auburn
Also, I posted about Michigan versus Ohio State: Ohio State vs Michigan
Back in the 2012 recruiting class, Georgia signed one of the top Running Backs in the nation in Keith Marshall out of Raleigh, North Carolina. They also signed another back out of North Carolina that
was listed as an Athlete by ESPN named Todd Gurley and he got little attention at the time.
Both played as true freshmen, but Gurley the recruit of little fanfare far out shined Marshall. Keith Marshall ran for 759 yards and 8 Touchdowns, but the talented Gurley ran for 1,385 yards and 17 Touchdowns.
We love Todd Gurley around my house and he will forever be known as the ‘Gurley Man’.
2013 was one of the more unlucky seasons I have ever heard of for a major college football teams. First, it was injuries to major players and then it was Prayer at Jordan Hare Prayer
Gurley missed part of the season and Marshall did not play after the fifth game due to injury. Brendon Douglas and JJ Green were their only backs in a few games. Gurley still managed to almost make it to a 1,000 yards with 989 rushing and that was after missing 3 games.
The 2014 recruiting class was special, but it was really great for Running Backs. 2014 RBs
The Bulldogs almost repeated 2012 recruiting success in 2014 with the signing of highly touted Sony Michel from Plantation, Florida. He was ranked as the second best Running Back in a recruiting class that was famous for it’s Running Backs.
They also signed highly recruited Nick Chubb from Cedartown, Georgia. Chubb was the 7th rated Running Back on ESPN’s list. Chubb was highly ranked, but he didn’t get the publicity of Michel.
For the Bulldogs, it was similar to 2012 in that the least highly rated Running Back would become the better of the two.
It was necessary that the 2014 recruits play in a hurry, with more seriously unfortunate things happening for the Bulldogs.
As maybe the Heisman Trophy favorite, Todd Gurley got off to a great start rushing for 198 yards against a very good Clemson team. He ran for 131 yards against South Carolina, then in game four against Tennessee he ran for 208 yards.
After blasting Vanderbilt for 163 yards, Gurley was suspended for 4 games for an autograph scandal.
Gurley made it back for the Auburn game and he blasted them for 138 yards before going down with a knee injury. Gurley’s college playing days were over after running for 3,285 yards.
Keith Marshall, the highly touted one in the 2012 class, ran for only 1,379 yards in an injury plague
career. He could have returned for another season, but opted to make himself available for the NFL Draft. Obviously, he wasn’t picked, but he signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent. Todd Gurley, on the other hand, was a first round pick by the then St Louis Rams.
With the Rams, he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. Gurley is not only an outstanding talent, but he’s also a great teammate and a leader.
With Gurley missing so much playing time, head coach Mark Richt had to have the true freshmen step up. They did so with flying colors and especially Nick Chubb.
With the top recruit in the country signing with LSU that season, Leonard Fournette got all of the hype. But, it was Chubb that was dazzling the nation with his size and speed. Chubb ran for 1,547 yards and 14 Touchdown. Chubb was listed at 5-10, 228 as a true freshman and he not only had power, but also almost sprinter’s speed.
Plagued by injuries, the nation’s second rated Running Back in the 2014 class, Sony Michel only ran for 410 yards. Michel was 5-11, 208 coming in and he should not be overlooked.
Chubb was well on his way to Heisman candidate status in 2015 with 745 rushing yards after 5 games. Against Eastern SEC rivals, Tennessee, Chubb was severely injured on his first carry of the game.
Now, it was Sony Michel’s turn. Out of necessity, Michel took over and he ran for 1,161 yards and 8 Touchdowns.
The Georgia Bulldogs fired the man that recruited this guys, Mark Richt , after finishing 10-3 in
2015. Former Alabama Defensive Coordinator and Georgia Defensive Back, Kirby Smart was hired to take over.
Meanwhile, injured Nick Chubb fought hard to come back and come back he did with 1,130 yards and 8 Touchdowns. Teammate Sony Michel was right there with him and had 840 rushing yards of his own.
With Chubb’s 3,424 and Michel’s 2,411 career rushing yards, they shocked the nation and announced they were returning for their senior seasons in 2017.
This is a good decision for college football and obviously for the Georgia Bulldogs and Kirby Smart. Time will tell if it was a good decision for them.