ATHENS - Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley said he’s not feeling nervous about his impending debut – the debut that’s growing in anticipation with every Georgia scrimmage and Trent Richardson comparison.
“It’s like a speech: You prepare well for it, there’s no reason to be nervous, because you know you’re ready for it. That’s how it should be,” Gurley said of the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo.
Heading into the preseason, Gurley may not have even been the most talked-about freshman tailback on the team. In fact, fellow North Carolina native Keith Marshall is still getting reps ahead of Gurley during practice.
But Gurley’s star has risen thanks to his performance at both scrimmages, leading the team in rushing yards each time. And the raves from veterans have only added to the hype:
Senior safety Shawn Williams even compared Gurley to Richardson, the former Alabama star and fourth overall pick in last April’s NFL draft.
Gurley laughed when asked about that.
“Yeah I think he probably compared me to that because (I also wear) No. 3 and I have dreads like Trent Richardson,” Gurley said. “I have a long, long, long way to go to be like Trent Richardson. But I mean, just for a senior, a starting senior, one of the key players on the team to call me that, that’s big. So I just take that and keep working with it.”
This is all quite a rise for a kid who four years ago wasn’t even sure he wanted to play high school football. While he played football as a kid, like many kids in the Tar Heel state his grew up watching a lot of basketball. Jerry Stackhouse attended a nearby high school.
“I was big on Duke basketball,” Gurley said.
During Gurley’s freshman year at Tarboro High School, coaches talked him into coming out. But even then he only played on defense.
It was during his sophomore year that he finally got moved to tailback, a position he played growing up.
“They wanted to try me out because most of the guys that were at running back were going up to the varsity level,” Gurley said. “So they thought they would give me a shot.”
He impressed enough to earn a promotion to the varsity for the playoffs, but mostly on kickoff. But finally he stuck at tailback, and the basketball itch went away.
“Football started working out pretty good,” he said. “So I stuck with that.”