There are no limitations this spring. Nick Chubb is cutting, running and moving at a fast pace. He is no longer wearing a brace to support his surgically repaired left knee. While Chubb was in good enough health to play during the 2016 season, there were still some hurdles to overcome.
Chubb said some of it had to do with the mental aspect of the game. He didn’t start running until last June, which only gave him three months to get up to full speed before the season opener against North Carolina.
The injured left knee, which sustained a torn PCL, LCL and MCL in a 2015 game against Tennessee, lingered in his mind. The brace he wore limited certain movements.
Now, it can all officially be put behind him.
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“I’m running with my team during spring and I have a lot more repetitions of running, moving around,” Chubb said. “I think it’s better.”
Chubb spoke with former Georgia running back Robert Edwards, who once dealt with a significant knee injury of his own. Edwards, along with others, told Chubb that the second year after a knee injury is when things start to feel back to normal.
Chubb said he is beginning to feel that come into fruition.
Chubb is also moving around on the Woodruff Practice Fields a bit lighter, having gone from 232 to 226 pounds. He said he’s quicker and possesses better lateral movement.
He’s also lining up some at receiver, similarly to what running back Sony Michel has done during the three previous years. It’s an area Chubb hopes to add to his repertoire in 2017.
“Me and Sony will be more versatile, just doing anything so I can move out to where Sony is and run routes,” Chubb said.
Chubb insists he wasn’t hurt during the 2016 season, although he would be the first to express disappointment at the running game’s issues. During his first two seasons at Georgia, Chubb averaged 7.4 yards per carry. That number dropped to 5 yards per carry a year ago and was lower until an uptick in production occurred during the final five games of the season.
Last season’s output caused offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to make some adjustments to his scheme, which are being implemented this spring. Chubb and Michel both met with Chaney this offseason about the expanded roles he has for them.
“He just told us that we were going to use all of the running backs and use us in different ways,” Chubb said. “He went over running plays, telling us what we did last year, what would we could do different this year and getting things straight in order.”
Chubb has once again put in the time to prepare for the upcoming season. While a lot of students went on vacation for spring break, Chubb went home to continue working out at Cedartown High School’s weight room.
He has done that during spring break every year in college.
“It’s just what I’ve always done,” Chubb said. “I ran track in high school, so I didn’t have a spring break. That’s a week for me to get ahead because everyone else is having fun. I use it to my advantage.”
Even after what he would consider a down season that still saw him total 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns, Chubb had a chance to enter the NFL draft and be selected in the first couple of rounds. He bypassed that option for a senior season at Georgia.
While the priority will be to win games and compete for an SEC championship, Chubb was asked about the program and conference record once set by Herschel Walker. During his time at Georgia, Walker totaled 5,259 rushing yards, a stat that has stood since the end of the 1982 season.
Chubb is in second place in program history with 3,424 yards and would need 1,836 yards in 2017 to break the record. It’s unlikely but not insurmountable. And the mere thought of it at least brought a smile to Chubb’s face.
“It is a long shot, but things happen for a reason,” Chubb said. “It would be nice. I don’t know. That’s a hard one.”