It’s quite possibly the worst kept secret at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
Barring anything absolutely unforeseen occurring in the next eight days, junior running back Nick Chubb is going to play in Georgia’s season opener against North Carolina. You can pencil him in to start, in fact.
Head coach Kirby Smart has previously stated it’s trending in that direction and said Wednesday his star runner is in line for carries at the Georgia Dome next Saturday.
But for whatever reason – superstition, the fear of a setback, or trying to keep information from the Tar Heels – the Bulldogs have not announced that Chubb is going to definitely play in the game.
Smart and Chubb both have stopped short of declaring the Heisman Trophy hopeful good to go for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Smart wouldn’t go that far Wednesday, and Chubb followed suit a day later.
“I can’t say anything,” Chubb said. “To me, I’m just getting myself ready and my teammates ready. Day by day, every day, I go out there and work hard and prepare as if I’m going to play, and things will fall into place.”
Chubb said the decision to play is in Smart’s hands but that he hasn’t heard anything yet.
But the fact Chubb has participated in every practice and was on the field for both scrimmages is a positive sign that he will represent the Bulldogs on the Georgia Dome turf.
How much Chubb is able to play is still a question that has been left unanswered. Chubb said he won’t be sure himself until he gets on the field, whenever he’s set to play.
Chubb ran for 747 yards and seven touchdowns before the injury last season, accumulating all but two of those yards in five games. He injured his left knee on the first play from scrimmage against Tennessee on Oct. 10, 2015, in which his PCL, MCL and LCL were all torn.
During the recovery process, Chubb reached out to former NFL players Willis McGahee and Robert Edwards for advice, considering they had to deal with similar injuries.
As for McGahee, Chubb contacted him on Instagram to see if he could share his experience. McGahee, during his third-year sophomore season at Miami, suffered a brutal hit to his knee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which doubled as the national championship, against Ohio State.
McGahee was forced to sit out his rookie season and went on to have a 10-year NFL career. Both McGahee and Edwards offered the same advice to Chubb, which seemed to resonate well.
“They said, ‘Your knee depends on how hard you’re willing to work,’” Chubb said. “They’re telling the right guy that.”
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie is in the camp that doesn’t know, or won’t say, whether Chubb will actually play against the Tar Heels. But after seeing him practice through the month of August, McKenzie admitted excitement at the possibility of seeing him on the field.
“When Nick gets on the field, whenever he gets on the field, it’s a whole new ballgame,” McKenzie said. “Just watching his every move.”
While Chubb maintains he hasn’t been given clearance for the opener, he did give a glimpse into what his personal preference would be come next Saturday.
“I like playing football. I wouldn’t mind getting out there,” Chubb said with a big smile.