If the 2015 NFL draft were to be held today it is likely that Todd Gurley from the University of Georgia would be the first RB selected. The star along with Aaron Murray of the a Bulldogs team that was five yards away from a spot in the BCS National Championship berth after falling just short to eventual champions Alabama.
Coming out of high school he was named North Carolina HS player of the year after he finished the year with 2600 yards and 38TDs and lead his team to a 2A State title. A highly regarded recruit he was a four star recruit by both Rivals and Scout with Rivals having higher at #5 at his position while Scout had him at #13. He received 8 scholarship offers from Georgia, Auburn and Clemson among others and was convinced by friend and fellow NC high school star and #1 RB Keith Marshall to choose Georgia over Clemson. He then gave a verbal commitment to Georgia before signing his letter of intent despite visits to Clemson and instate NC State.
While he was expected to get a decent amount of playing time in his freshmen season, no one expected him to explode as he did as he was the named the backup running back behind Redshirt Sophomore. Right from the start he was dominant with 100 yards in his debut against Buffalo on only 8 carries averaging a staggering 12.5 yards a carry as the Bulldogs dominated Buffalo 45-23 in Athens. Georgia and Gurley kept rolling getting 436 yards and 7 TDs as the Georgia rattled off 4 more victories including over SEC Championship game losers Missouri. The highlight of this run was a win over Tennessee when he combined with fellow true Freshmen Keith Marshall for 294 yards and 5 TDs on the ground and were awarded SEC Freshmen of the week award along with Johnny Manziel. Gurley slowed down a bit in the next two games as Georgia lost to South Carolina and Aaron Murray took over against Kentucky with 400 yards passing. He then got red hot again as he ripped off three 100 yard games in a row in a wins over Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn. Then in the SEC Championship against Alabama he ran for 125 yards against the best defense in all the NCAA but Georgia ended up coming up five yards short from scoring the go ahead touchdown on their final drive and lost out on a place in the BCS Championship game. He finished up with another 100 yard rushing game against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. After the season he was named Freshman All-American and 2nd team All-SFEC behind Eddie Lacy. His strong power running style was the perfect compliment to Aaron Murray’s passing abilities and meant that the opposition couldn’t pack the box and or drop numbers back into coverage with these two threats. These two helped along with defensive stars Jarvis Jones and Alex Ogletree helped to bring the Bulldogs to another level. After his break out season he was often compared to Georgia legend Herschel Walker and had one of the best Freshmen seasons since Adrian Peterson’s at Oklahoma back in 2004.
Gurley breaks throw tackles in his freshmen season
Coming into his second season he was named a consensus preseason All-American and got off to unbelievable start taking his first carry 75 yards for a score in front of 22 NFL scouts on night in which he stood out as the best player on the pitch. For his performance he won his first SEC Offensive Player of the Week award but Georgia ultimately fell short in a shootout 38-35. Next week against South Carolina and Jadeavon Clowney Gurley rushed for 132 on 30 despite a hip flexor injury to give Georgia their first win in four attempts against South Carolina. He played well in the next game against North Texas but after that he struggled with injuries for a while before getting back to top shape with a peak of 122 in a double overtime win against Georgia Tech.
With Aaron Murray moving on to the NFL Gurley will have to carry more of the load offensively but this could work to his advantage to show case his talent to the NFL. A strong down runner, Gurley needs to be stopped before the line or he’ll have three yards in a flash. Contact doesn’t faze him either, in fact he thrives on as often the defender comes off worse. He has deceiving speed as well as seen in his 74 yard run against Clemson and he also is a receiving threat out of the back field being Georgia third leaving with 441 yards. With a trend emerging the last two years of not selecting RB until the second round due to durability concerns it will be difficult to break the cycle but I feel if anyone can next year it is Gurley who really could be the second coming of Herschel Walker.