Five-star RB Michel could contribute right away for UGA

Georgia learned firsthand in 2013 that you can’t have enough talented running backs.

Chad Simmons/Scout.com
Sony MIche

More are on the way.

Sony Michel saw the Bulldogs play without injured tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall in October and knew Georgia could have used him.

“I watched a couple of games when they were hurt and I felt like I could have been a big part of that,” Michel said.

The five-star commitment from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., is expected to make the Bulldogs even better in the backfield along with Cedartown running back Nick Chubb.

Michel and Chubb make up what’s considered the top running back class in the country as national signing day nears on Feb. 5. They got to know each other at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio earlier this month.

“We’re just starting a new journey,” Michel said.

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Michel is Georgia’s top-rated commitment, ranked No. 12 in the nation by Scout.com and No. 13 by Rivals.com. He was a first-team USA Today All-USA selection.

Michel rushed for 1,840 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2013 while leading American Heritage to the Florida Class 5A state title.

“I’m not a big numbers person, I just let the numbers come and I just try to win games,” he said.

Michel’s been on the scene in south Florida since making a splash on the field starting in eighth grade. He rushed for more than 6,600 yards in his career even with missing his sophomore season with a torn ACL.

“Seeing him in person for the first time, I was very impressed with his burst,” said 247Sports recruiting analyst Rusty Mansell, who watched Michel during the U.S. Army game week. “He’s
really light on his feet, explosive, just very good. He’s strong enough to run in between the tackles or get on the edge.”

Michel committed to Georgia in late April and tweeted this week that Georgia coach Mark Richt told him he will wear No. 1 next season for the Bulldogs.

Michel said he sees himself as a “different style of back. I would describe it as an all-around back, with speed and power.” He grew up liking NFL star running back Adrian Peterson.

“I can do a little bit of all of it,” Michel said.

Georgia’s depth at running back was tested when it lost Gurley for three and a half games with an ankle injury and Marshall for the final eight games with a torn ACL.

“I don’t know if you can ever have enough backs, and certainly injury is an issue,” Richt said. “Guys that are talented enough to possibly have a three-year career instead of a four-year career, you’ve got to plan for all of those things. I don’t know what decisions guys will make down the road, but certainly we’ve got some very talented backs that will have some decisions to make, as well. That’s all part of the reason to continue to recruit great players.”

Mansell thinks both Michel and Chubb will get playing time as freshmen for Georgia.

“There’s just no way you can keep them off the field,” Mansell said. “When it gets down to those things, obviously at Georgia, they’re going to have to be able to block, they’re going to have to be able to pick up the schemes before they get thrown into the fire in those first games with Clemson and South Carolina. They’re definitely going to play meaningful minutes as true freshmen next season. They may not get the bulk of the carries with Gurley and Marshall and some other guys, but Georgia’s going to play those guys.”

The Bulldogs also still have J.J. Green, Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman as scholarship running backs. Georgia could decide to use Green in the slot.

“Next year when it comes,” Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon said last month, “I promise it will take care of itself.”

Marc Weiszer: marc.weiszer@onlineathens.com

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