Todd Gurley met with the media Thursday for the first time since the autograph story broke last October. A lot of time has passed, and this interview was at the NFL combine, so the NCAA suspension didn't come up ... until the end of Gurley's time at the podium.
Gurley was asked about dealing with the autograph story, and answered that it was to "just man up to my mistakes."
“I made a dumb mistake and I suffered the consequences," Gurley said according to a transcript of his Indianapolis press conference. "I had to move on from that, but just show them that I’m a great person at the end of the day.”
Gurley served a four-game suspension, ending what could have been a Heisman Trophy run. His reputation also took a hit, although he was a cause celebre' to some who don't like the NCAA's autograph rule.
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Either way, the former Georgia star said the situation made him more careful.
“That probably was one of the best worst things that happened to me," said Gurley, who the NCAA ruled accepted more than $3,000 in cash from multiple memorabilia dealers. "You definitely want to keep your eyes on a swivel and just watch who you’re around because everybody is not for you. Even though I’d made a dumb mistake, it just makes you think about stuff in the future.”
Now Gurley can sign all the autographs for money he wants. But first he wants to get drafted. Most projections have Gurley going in the late first round, both because of his injury and the de-emphasis on drafting running backs very high. But Gurley is shooting higher.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m not here to be No. 5 overall or a second-round pick. I want to be the best," he said. "“I know what I can do. I feel like I can come in and help a team. That might sound ridiculous, but that’s the confidence I have in myself.”
During the suspension last year, there was speculation that Gurley might just call it a career at Georgia and start preparing for the NFL, rather than risk injury. But it was only fan and media speculation, with no inkling behind the scenes Gurley had even thought about that.
Still, Gurley was asked if he had any regrets about coming back last season, given what happened.
“I don’t. I did it because I love football. That’s what I do," Gurley said. "I’ve played football my whole life. Injuries come with the game. I wouldn’t take that game back for nothing.”
Gurley thinks he'll be available for the start of the NFL season, but he's not healthy enough to work out before the draft. He said he didn't think he'd be able to do anything at UGA's pro day on March 18.
In the meantime, Gurley said he's been doing some light jogging, quad and hamstring strengthening, and other lower leg exercises.
Gurley said he had 24 interviews lined up at the combine. He was asked how he'd prepare for them.
“I don’t know, drink a lot of water so I won’t be dehydrated in there and be licking my lips the whole time," he said. "Just going in there being myself. They ask me questions, tell the truth and just be myself.”