- Jeremy Crabtree, RecruitingNation
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No Todd Gurley. No problem?
Gurley, Georgia’s Heisman Trophy candidate running back, was indefinitely suspended Thursday pending an investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules. And while it will be impossible to completely replace him, there is no program better equipped than Georgia to handle the loss of a key player such as Gurley.
Thanks to triumphs on the recruiting trail in the past three recruiting classes, the Bulldogs are stacked at the position and might just be able to weather the storm as they travel to Missouri Saturday for a critical SEC East matchup.
Two of those running back recruiting victories came just last February, when the Dawgs were able to lure two top-10 running backs to Athens.
Nick Chubb didn’t garner as many headlines nationally as some other 2014 Georgia recruits, but he’s turned into the biggest impact signee from the class. Ranked as the No. 7 running back, the Cedartown (Georgia) product could have gone anywhere he wanted in the SEC and to a number of other national programs. But he was drawn to Georgia’s strong running back tradition and picked the Dawgs over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and numerous others.
“It’s amazing to be going in behind guys like Herschel Walker and Todd Gurley, two of the best running backs ever,” Chubb said after signing with the Dawgs. “I’m going to make a name for myself, and I’m going to do my best.”
His best has been more than good enough so far, as Chubb is the Dawgs’ second-leading rusher with 224 yards, a very good 7.2-yard average and two touchdowns. He likely will be called upon to carry a bigger load Saturday, and while you never expect a true freshman to excel in this type of situation, Chubb came into Georgia ready to deal with the spotlight and pressure.
“There’s always going to be pressure, and people are going to be watching to see if we can live up to it,” Chubb said. “I’ve been doing this since I was young, and I’m going to continue doing it. I’m going to do my best.”
Georgia also got another big running back pickup in February Sony Michel committed early to Georgia, picking the Dawgs over a host of nationally respected programs like Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame and others. Despite repeated pushes from local schools, namely Miami, Michel stuck with the Dawgs because of UGA’s deep running back tradition. Unfortunately Michel and a href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/530937/keith-marshall" target="_new">Keith Marshall, the No. 2 running back in the 2012 class who came to Georgia with Gurley, are injured and out on Saturday, leaving Chubb to take the majority of the carries.
While Todd Gurley's loss is a blow, Georgia's running back recruiting puts it in a better position to handle it that most.