May 1, 2012

Gurley ready to compete

Todd Gurley isn't afraid of a little competition.

While he was still being recruited, it wasn't unusual for rival recruiters - and sometimes even well-meaning friends - to ask why he would attend a school like Georgia, where on paper, there appears to be a number of capable backs.

Gurley's answer was always the same.

"I picked Georgia because that's just the way I felt. I didn't care who they had," Gurley said in a telephone interview. "At the end of the day, I had to go to a place I felt like I wanted to be."

So although the Bulldogs' backfield also features the likes of Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome, Richard Samuel and best friend Keith Marshall, Gurley said their presence doesn't bother him in the least.

"I felt like you're going to compete anywhere you go," he said. "People told me at Georgia there would be more competition, but I'm not that type of person. I'm not afraid of any competition. I put that out of the situation and just picked the school I wanted to pick."

But just because he's not afraid of competition and wants to earn his share of playing time that doesn't mean Gurley isn't excited about what the Bulldogs' group of running backs will be able to accomplish this fall.

"Anytime somebody goes down or gets hurt, it's not going to stop," Gurley said. "Everything is going to stay the same. We'll be getting it done every time, every game."

Georgia coaches have already said that Gurley will get plenty of opportunities come preseason drills to prove that he's ready to play.

Gurley certainly proved his stock to Rivals analyst when he received an unprecedented bump in the final rankings, going from an unranked three-star performer to No. 42 in the nation.

"There is always a lot of movement at the end of the recruiting cycle when it comes to rankings," said national analyst Mike Farrell back in February. "But for a player to go from a three-star all the way up to No. 42 in the nation is rare and exceptional. But that's how good Gurley is."

He's also used to winning.

Gurley also led the Tarboro Vikings to a 13-2 record and a third straight NCHSAA 2A State Championship, rushing 148 times for 1,457 yards and 27 touchdowns his senior year.

He's scheduled to arrive in Athens with the rest of the freshman class by early June.

"I'm ready to get down there, but I'm still going to just enjoy my time at home because I know when I leave I won't be able to come back as much," he said. "But I'm excited to get down there."

Marshall has been keeping him abreast of what to expect once he does arrive.

"He tells me he's doing good, that he's gained some weight, put some good pounds on," Gurley said of Marshall, who is now approaching 205 pounds.

"I was like 'dang, you about to catch me,'" Gurley laughed, nothing that Marshall played at approximately 195 his senior year at Millbrook (N.C.) High.

Gurley said he currently weighs 217 pounds."When I started my senior year I was probably about like (Marshall), around 200 pounds," he said. "But by the end of the year I was playing between 210 and 215."

Gurley will wear No. 3 for the Bulldogs come fall. He's also preparing himself for the changes that will be coming his way.

"For me, I think the biggest challenges are going to be the little stuff," he said. "There are things in high school you can't get away with in college, plus you've got to do everything at full speed and being able to come to practice every day knowing that you're having to compete for a spot."