ATHENS – Everyone can claim to be happy about being out there for spring practice. No one can mean it more than A.J. Turman.
It’s been a lost two seasons, essentially, for the Georgia tailback. He redshirted his first season after some early injuries, which robbed him of the chance to see playing time that instead went to two other freshmen. Then a right foot injury caused him to spend most of last season in the training room, returning for two measly bowl practices.
“Last year was just hard. I’m not gonna lie. It was the hardest year,” Turman said. “Redshirt (year), it was hard at first but I understood. I got into the playbook, I learned the plays. Then I got the injury.”
And as he sat out, he watched as Nick Chubb and Sony Michel emerge as freshmen. Keith Marshall took a medical redshirt, gaining another year. It all pushed Turman further down the depth chart, which also includes Brendan Douglas. There are five scholarship tailbacks, and Turman is the only one with zero career carries. It would not seem to bode well for his future at Georgia.
But he said he never thought about transferring.
“I just think competition makes everybody better,” he said. “I’m glad they’re out there playing real good. It’s pushing me to become a better running back.”
This spring it’s looking up: Now injuries to others (Michel re-injured his shoulder and Marshall hurt his hamstring) have allowed Turman to get increased reps. He was the team’s leading rusher in Satuday’s scrimmage, when Chubb was basically given the day off and Douglas worked with the first team.
“I don’t play favorites,” said running backs coach Thomas Brown, hired away from Wisconsin this offseason. “I play the guys that are consistent, show up every day, know what to do, know how to do it, and compete. I think (Turman) has done a pretty good job so far of trying to compete, and just try to continue him to make the most of his opportunities.”
Because of the foot injury, Turman put a lot of weight on his 6-foot frame, but he said he’s worked his way back down to 215 pounds.
“We’re all powerful running backs, and that’s what Georgia produces: Hard runners,” Turman said. “And I feel like I fit in perfectly to this.”