Ge­or­gia’s Gur­ley: 2,000 yards ‘would be awe­some’

The Standard Journal - - National Sports - By JOHN ZENOR

HOOVER, Ala. — Todd Gur­ley downplays talk of be­ing a po­ten­tial Heis­man Tro­phy can­di­date, but the Ge­or­gia run­ning back can’t con­tain a smile at the men­tion of one mile­stone that’s prob­a­bly un­re­al­is­tic.

What would it be like to run for 2,000 yards like Bos­ton Col­lege’s An­dre Wil­liams did last sea­son?

“If I could get 2,000 yards, that would be awe­some,” Gur­ley said Thurs­day at South­east­ern Con­fer­ence me­dia days. “If the Lord would bless me with that, oh my gosh. That’s go­ing to be pretty hard to do in the SEC.”

Pretty hard to do at Ge­or­gia, too, with a back­field that also in­cludes Keith Mar­shall and other highly re­cruited backs. But a player can dream.

Gur­ley was one of nu­mer­ous key Bull­dogs play­ers who were in­jured dur­ing an 8-5 sea­son. He missed three games but still flirted with 1,000 yards and has run for 2,374 yards and 27 touch­downs in two sea­sons.

He and Alabama’s T.J. Yel­don are the mar­quee tail­backs in a league that’s short on ex­pe­ri­enced quar­ter­backs but has three 1,000-yard rush­ers re­turn­ing from last sea­son, not even count­ing Gur­ley or Auburn quar­ter­back Nick Mar­shall.

There’s also Arkansas’ Alex Collins and South Carolina’s Mike Davis among oth­ers. It’s a deep group in a sea­son when Ge­or­gia and other teams are break­ing in new start­ing quar­ter­backs.

Gur­ley was asked if there’s a friendly com­pe­ti­tion among the run­ning backs.

“Who wouldn’t want to lead the SEC in rush­ing yards?” he said. “I just go out there and do my game. I don’t worry about what other people do. I def­i­nitely re­spect their game and I def­i­nitely watch their tapes... it’s not re­ally a com­pe­ti­tion.”

Auburn Heis­man fi­nal­ist Tre Ma­son and LSU’s Jeremy Hill have joined the trend of SEC run­ning backs leav­ing early for the NFL. Gur­ley will be el­i­gi­ble af­ter this sea­son.

“Whether Todd stays an­other year or not, I don’t know,” Ge­or­gia coach Mark Richt said. “But if he stays healthy, I think he’s one of the bet­ter play­ers in Amer­ica, no doubt about it. Hope­fully he stays healthy.

“I see that he’s get­ting into great con­di­tion.... I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

As for the Heis­man, he said that’s “just for the fans” and more of a team thing. Be­com­ing a con­tender might de­pend not only on Gur­ley stay­ing healthy but on the Bull­dogs’ for­tunes af­ter fall­ing hard from a No. 5 pre­sea­son rank­ing dur­ing an in­jury-rid­dled 2013.

“You have to be on a great team,” Gur­ley said. “You can’t be on an 8-5 team and ex­pect to win the Heis­man be­cause it’s def­i­nitely not go­ing to hap­pen. If I was able to reach that goal I would def­i­nitely love to have it.

“It would be be­cause of my team­mates.”

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — South­east­ern Con­fer­ence play­ers have mostly been con­tent to let league ad­min­is­tra­tors and coaches take up the drum­beat for NCAA re­form.

Not that they’re com­plain­ing.

Play­ers at SEC Me­dia Days this week were mostly pleased about the trend to­ward a few more perks — in­clud­ing scholarships that would of­fer full cost of at­ten­dance. They also ad­mit they’ve al­ready got it pretty good.

SEC com­mis­sioner Mike Slive has even said the Big Five con­fer­ences could break away from the NCAA if play­ers aren’t com­pen­sated more prop­erly.

The life of ma­jor col­lege foot­ball play­ers and coaches could change dras­ti­cally once the NCAA and Big Five con­fer­ences are done re­vamp­ing the cur­rent sys­tem.

Florida quar­ter­back Jeff Driskel says play­ers aren’t starv­ing but “it would be nice to re­ceive a lit­tle more com­pen­sa­tion.”

Todd Butch/AP

Ge­or­gia’s Todd Gur­ley speaks to the me­dia at the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence foot­ball me­dia days last week in Hoover, Ala. SEC play­ers mostly leave lob­by­ing to oth­ers

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