Gur­ley says he taught Michel to ‘run and catch’

The Tribune (SLO) - - Sports - BY CHARLES ODUM

Todd Gur­ley says he of­ten com­mu­ni­cated with two other for­mer Ge­or­gia run­ning backs, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, dur­ing the 2018 sea­son.

Now that Gur­ley and Michel are hav­ing a Su­per Bowl re­union as the lead­ing rush­ers for the Los An­ge­les Rams and New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, re­spec­tively, that con­ver­sa­tion is on hold. Gur­ley says he’s try­ing to avoid talk­ing with Michel, his 2014 Ge­or­gia team­mate, this week.

At least not di­rectly. Sur­rounded by re­porters on Tues­day, Gur­ley took a few good-na­tured ver­bal jabs at Michel.

“I re­mem­ber when he first came in, he couldn’t run and catch,” Gur­ley said of Michel’s fresh­man sea­son at Ge­or­gia. “I had to teach him how to do all that stuff.”

Gur­ley taught Michel?

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “Hope­fully every­thing I taught him, he doesn’t do it and he just plays like he used to play be­fore I taught him every­thing.”

Michel on Mon­day de­scribed Gur­ley as a “big brother” at Ge­or­gia and said “it’s pretty cool” the two will share the spot­light on Sun­day.

“It’s just more amaz­ing that it’s the Su­per Bowl,” Michel said.

“We played on the same team, and I’ve seen him grow through­out the years. He worked for every­thing he got, and I’m ex­cited for him.”

Michel and Cleve­land’s Nick Chubb had pro­duc­tive rookie sea­sons to join Gur­ley in the league and strengthen Ge­or­gia’s brag­ging rights to be the na­tion’s “RBU” – the top school for run­ning backs. It’s been a much-re­peated claim since Her­schel Walker won the Heis­man Tro­phy for the Bull­dogs in 1982 and was fol­lowed by such backs as Garrison Hearst, Rod­ney Hamp­ton, Robert Ed­wards and Know­shon Moreno.

Gur­ley said Ge­or­gia has been RBU “since I left.” Chubb, Michel, Eli­jah Holy­field and D’An­dre Swift have had 1,000yard sea­sons. Holy­field, the son of for­mer box­ing cham­pion Evan­der Holy­field, is en­ter­ing this year’s NFL draft as a ju­nior.

Asked what makes Ge­or­gia dif­fer­ent than other schools with more than one NFL run­ning back, Gur­ley said “be­cause we’re play­ing in the Su­per Bowl and no­body else is.”

Each run­ning back has help.

The Rams boast a onetwo punch with Gur­ley and C.J. An­der­son. Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady also can give the ball to James White and Rex Burk­head.

Pa­tri­ots cen­ter David An­drews, an­other for­mer Ge­or­gia player, said he en­joys see­ing the Bull­dogs’ tail­back tra­di­tion get­ting at­ten­tion.

“Any pub­lic­ity Ge­or­gia gets, I ap­pre­ci­ate and I like,” An­drews said.

Gur­ley was one of the NFL’s most pro­duc­tive play­ers this sea­son. He led the league with 21 to­tal touch­downs and ranked third with 1,251 yards rush­ing. He also had 59 catches as he flour­ished as a run­ner and re­ceiver for the sec­ond straight year in coach Sean McVay’s of­fense.

Chubb ranked 10th with 996 yards and Michel was 15th with 931 yards in the reg­u­lar sea­son. An­other for­mer Ge­or­gia player, Isa­iah Crow­ell, led the Jets in rush­ing fol­low­ing four sea­sons with Cleve­land.

Michel is the league’s top post­sea­son rusher with 242 yards rush­ing and five touch­downs. That in­cludes 129 yards and three touch­downs in a win over the Charg­ers.

Gur­ley had only four car­ries for 10 yards in the Rams’ NFC cham­pi­onship game win over New Or­leans. Even though he ran for 115 yards in the Rams’ play­off win over Dal­las, the quiet show­ing against the Saints made many ob­servers won­der if Gur­ley was still both­ered by a knee in­jury that caused him to miss the fi­nal two games of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

He in­sisted his health is not an is­sue.

“I feel good,” Gur­ley said Tues­day.

McVay pre­dicted Gur­ley “is go­ing to be a big part” of the Su­per Bowl game plan.

“I think a large part of specif­i­cally when you talk about last week’s game was the play se­lec­tion,” McVay said Tues­day. “I’ve got to do a much bet­ter job for Todd to get him op­por­tu­ni­ties to get go­ing.”

ELISE AMENDOLA AP

Rams tail­back Todd Gur­ley, left, says he’s try­ing to avoid talk­ing this week with the Pa­tri­ots’ Sony Michel, right, his Ge­or­gia team­mate in 2014. “I re­mem­ber when he first came in, he couldn’t run and catch,” Gur­ley said of Michel’s fresh­man sea­son.

JAE C. HONG AP

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