The nickname Gurshall that sprung out of the rousing success of Georgia‚Äôs freshman tailbacks two years ago may have faded, but the standard set by Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall remains.
Yes, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, he thinks that 2014 signees Sony Michel and Nick Chubb can do the same types of things in their rookie seasons this fall for the Bulldogs as Gurley and Marshall did.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no question, I think that‚Äôs what we expect,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs what they expect out of themselves for them to come in here and play. We wouldn‚Äôt have recruited them if we didn‚Äôt think otherwise. Coach (Bryan) McClendon‚Äôs track record‚Äôs pretty good of getting young backs ready to play and I expect the same thing this year, get these guys ready to play and make plays for us.‚Äù
There may be fewer touches to go around than two years ago since Gurley will return for his junior season as one of the top running backs in the nation after playing at less than full strength last year, and Marshall is expected back from a torn ACL sustained last October.
‚ÄúYou look at a Todd Gurley if he comes back healthy, you look at a Keith Marshall if he comes back healthy, they both could be departing early,‚Äù ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. ‚ÄúSo what do you do? You go out and get two running backs in this class ‚Äî Sony Michel and Nick Chubb ‚Äî and you address that now and that‚Äôs important to do that anticipating what‚Äôs going forward.‚Äù
Gurley and Marshall combined to rush for 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012 when Gurshall stuck as a tribute to the legendary Herschel Walker before Gurley said before last season he wasn‚Äôt a fan of it.
Rivals.com ranks the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Michel from Plantation, Fla., and the 5-foot-10, 215 Chubb from Cedartown the No. 13 and 35 overall prospects nationally, giving Georgia perhaps the nation‚Äôs top tailback duo in the nation this year.
Those rankings are higher than Gurley (No. 42) and Marshall (No. 48) were pegged at in 2012, but Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said he wouldn‚Äôt take the old tandem over the new tandem coming out of high school.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs close,‚Äù Farrell said. ‚ÄúTodd Gurley is just the one that differentiates. Sony is a five-star. He‚Äôs a thick-legged kid who can really do a lot of work outside, bounces things offsides and has really good feet. Chubb is also a thick-leg kid, a physical runner, doesn‚Äôt have the speed of Sony. I love the 1-2 punch. I just think Gurley is more special than either of them, tall and fast, a home run type of threat. Keith Marshall obviously turned out to be a good 1-B.‚Äù
Farrell was more bullish on Gurley out of Tarboro (N.C.) High than most recruiting analysts, but still regrets not rating him even higher after being wowed by him at the Shrine Bowl.
‚ÄúLooking back if there‚Äôs one thing that I kick myself on it‚Äôs not having the guts to put Gurley as a five-star,‚Äù Farrell said.
Michel and Chubb aren‚Äôt too shabby. Michel rushed for 1,833 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior and Chubb ran for 2,690 and 41 touchdowns.
Michel can be a weapon in the passing game catching the ball.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs got a big skill set,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think he‚Äôs just a running back. I think he‚Äôs got great hands and will be able to do stuff out of the backfield.‚Äù
Georgia quarterback early enrollee Jacob Park played with his future teammates at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
‚ÄúThe two running backs we got are phenomenal,‚Äù Park said. ‚ÄúWill Grier, that (signed) with Florida is one of my good friends. The whole time we were at practice he said, `I can‚Äôt believe you got the two best running backs.‚Äô It‚Äôs just a blessing to have me coming in with two good running backs and some of the offensive lineman we got are pretty good. It‚Äôs going to be fun. I definitely got excited about what we could do in the next couple of years.‚Äù
It‚Äôs full speed ahead for 2014 for them.
‚ÄúWe signed those guys for them to come in and play,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúWe believe they‚Äôre difference-makers, guys that can change ballgames. I wish they were here right now. As soon as they get here this summer we‚Äôre going to work like mad to get them up to speed and ready to play in that opening ballgame.‚Äù
They should make Georgia even deeper at tailback where Georgia still has Brendan Douglas, J.J. Green and A.J. Turman.
‚ÄúWe will absolutely give those guys a chance to show what they can do, and if they can be productive, we‚Äôll get them in the game,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said of the incoming freshmen.
Whether Michel and Chubb can one day be as good or better than Gurley and Marshall only time will tell.
‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs yet to be determined,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúI hope we‚Äôre having that argument about those guys if they‚Äôre able to make plays and people are comparing the two because those two have been pretty good for us the first two years and they still have a lot of football left.‚Äù
Follow Marc online at twitter.com/marcweiszer.