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"My God, a Freshman!": Todd Gurley and His Place in Georgia Bulldogs History

How good a freshman year do you think Todd Gurley is having for the Georgia Bulldogs? Chances are, you aren't giving him enough credit for the stellar season he is having.

The Gurley Man makes his opponents look like girlie men.
The Gurley Man makes his opponents look like girlie men.
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

To put it delicately, it has not been a good week for player news here in Bulldog Nation, as we have learned, to our chagrin, that Marlon Brown’s collegiate career is over, and that Abry Jones has played his last game in a Georgia uniform, as well. Our hearts go out to these young men for reasons that go above and beyond their contributions to the Bulldog football program.

I am, therefore, interested in emphasizing a bit of good news, particularly just a few days before Georgia is likely to produce an SEC player of the week. I am, however, somewhat hesitant to do so, since it involves heaping praise on a Red and Black running back. After all, I similarly paid tribute to Isaiah Crowell, and look what happened to him.

Nevertheless, Todd Gurley has had a true freshman season worthy of accolades, and I am inclined to give him the credit he deserves, particularly since Mark Richt has never had occasion to sit him down so the coach can show the tailback how much he loves him. Accordingly, as they say on the internet: “Chart? Chart.” (No, I don’t know why they say that, either, but they do.)

Player TFS* Att. Yds. YPC**
Herschel Walker 1980 274 1,616 5.9
Rodney Hampton 1987 126 890 7.1
Thomas Brown 2004 172 875 5.1
Todd Gurley 2012 138 857 6.2
Isaiah Crowell 2011 185 850 4.6
Garrison Hearst 1990 162 717 4.4

* True Freshman Season

** Yards Per Carry

In Gurley’s case, those aren’t projected numbers; those are actual stats through nine games. Barring injury, the three-time SEC freshman of the week has three more regular-season games, a bowl game, and quite likely a conference championship game to go. He is averaging 95.2 yards per game, and has reached the century mark six times this autumn, having done so five times in his last seven outings. If he even so much as matches his lowest output of the season (39 yards against South Carolina) this weekend, his true freshman campaign will have seen him overtake both Thomas Brown and Rodney Hampton.

However, this autumn carries the potential for so much more for Gurley, who leads all SEC running backs in rushing yardage in 2012. If “Super Gurl” maintains his 95.2-yard average for each of five remaining games this fall, he will finish the year with 1,333 rushing yards. As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Knowshon Rockwell Moreno earned the No. 2 spot on the all-time Georgia rookie rushing list with 1,334 yards gained on the ground. If Gurley plays five more games this season, maintains his overall average, and falls forward a couple of extra times, he will surpass Knowshon’s freshman season.

Is this sustainable? Probably not entirely, given the likelihood that the ‘Dawgs will face in the Georgia Dome a Crimson Tide defense ranked second in the country against the run, but Gurley already has crossed paths with the nation’s tenth- and 14th-best rush defenses, notching 118 yards against one of them, and his remaining regular-season games are against Auburn (ranked 98th in the land against the run), Division I-AA Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech (ranked 53rd in the land against the run, three spots lower than the Ole Miss team that just surrendered 117 rushing yards to him). Gurley certainly should have his opportunity to make his mark in the Bulldog record book, even more so than he already has.

Bulldog Nation, you literally may be witnessing the second-best season by a true freshman tailback in University of Georgia history. It is by no means outside the realm of possibility that the word “true” in the preceding sentence is superfluous. Enjoy it.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!

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