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 1,000-yard 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 one-two 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.”