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This is a story about a star running back at Georgia, which means that it is also, on some intrinsic level, a story about Herschel Walker. It’s impossible to avoid: In his three years, Walker so thoroughly embodied the ideal college workhorse that in the three-plus decades since his last carry in a red-and-black uniform, his shadow over the position has only grown. At some point, possibly before he even left campus, that shadow became a permanent feature of the landscape, looming over aspiring recruits and proven commodities alike: The best of the post-Walker tailbacks in Athens include two consensus All-Americans,1 six first-round draft picks,2 and a future NFL MVP, all of whom register in the imagination as mere footnotes by comparison. No broad-shouldered, blue-chip prospect has ever been touted as The Next Rodney Hampton. No fan in the cheap seats has ever been moved by a great run to exclaim, “That kid looks like Tim Worley out there!” No TV producer has ever booked Garrison Hearst or Knowshon Moreno to grant his blessing to the latest heir apparent.

So the bar for what qualifies as a star running back at Georgia is relative, to put it mildly. And before we get around to parsing the bona fides of the current headliner, sophomore Nick Chubb, it has to be said that exultant expectations for UGA rushers over the past few years have tended to produce a lot of false prophets.

(read the rest of this story here….)

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The Georgia Bulldogs are in search of a starting quarterback and a drought-ending Southeastern Conference title.

First things first, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt says he has ”no idea” who will win the quarterback job. His only prediction at SEC media days Thursday was that it will be ”a tremendous competition” between Virginia graduate transfer Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta.

Lambert has to play catch-up in learning the offense since he only recently arrived on campus.

”I think it’s going to take a while,” Richt said. ”We have 29 practice opportunities before the first game, and we’re going to get a rotation where we can see the guys that we want to see compete and then make a decision on who should be the starter.

”But right now, I don’t know who that is.”

Lambert started nine games for Virginia last season, but left after losing the starting job in the spring.

Offensive lineman John Theus said he’s confident in all of those quarterbacks, from what he’s seen on the field and in offseason drills.

”Greyson’s competitive, Faton’s competitive, Brice is competitive,” Theus said. ”It’s just going to be interesting to see who wins.”

As a team, the Bulldogs are trying to win their first SEC title since 2005. They were picked as the heavy favorite to win the Eastern Division by reporters covering SEC media days – but to lose to Alabama in the championship game.

That’s been a trend. The West has won six straight championship games and the Bulldogs have fallen twice in Atlanta during that span.

Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell makes it clear they’re ready to snap that streak.

”Oh, it’s time. It’s time,” Mitchell said. ”Our goal is to break through that glass ceiling.”

The Bulldogs have annually been among the division’s preseason favorites, only to fall short. Missouri has won the East two straight seasons.

What’s held Georgia back?

”If I knew that, I might be the smartest man,” Mitchell said. ”But I don’t have that answer.”

Once again, the Bulldogs figure to have a loaded backfield. This time tailback Nick Chubb is considered a potential Heisman Trophy contender after a huge freshman season.

Richt didn’t bring his biggest star to media days, saying he prefers to bring seniors.

Richt doesn’t think the hype will get to Chubb, calling him ”a pretty quiet, unassuming guy.”

”He doesn’t care about that,” the coach said. ”He cares about working hard, playing hard and helping Georgia win. I really appreciate that about him. ”

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Signing Day for Georgia Bulldogs

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Associated Press

Todd Gurley was a leading Heisman Trophy contender before his four-game suspension. Now that he’s returning for No. 16 Georgia (No. 20 CFP, No. 16 AP) against Auburn (No. 3, No. 9) this week, it’s no lock he’ll even be a starter.

Gurley’s replacement, Nick Chubb, has made a strong case to keep the job.

Chubb ran for 170 yards and a touchdown Saturday in a 63-31 victory over Kentucky. He had 143 or more yards in each of his four games as Gurley’s replacement.

Todd Gurley

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesThe NCAA suspended Georgia’s Todd Gurley for taking $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over two years.

Coach Mark Richt’s task of determining playing time for the tailbacks became more difficult when Sony Michel returned from a shoulder injury with 84 yards rushing against Kentucky.

Richt said Sunday he and his assistants have not picked a starting tailback against Auburn.

“We haven’t even talked about that yet,” Richt said. “Obviously, both those guys will play and we’ll see how Sony is doing. I think he came out of the game pretty good, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than just Nick and Todd in the ballgame at that running back position. Early in the year we did a good job of giving guys reps and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

The NCAA suspended Gurley for taking $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over two years. Georgia (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) was 3-1 without Gurley, losing to Florida two weeks ago.

Gurley’s suspension, followed by Georgia’s investigation of the allegations he sold autographs and its appeal for his reinstatement, overshadowed other issues for the Bulldogs for the last month. The NCAA upheld the four-game suspension on Oct. 30, when it denied Georgia’s appeal to have the punishment reduced to two games.

Richt said he didn’t discuss the matter with the team after the initial suspension was announced. He worked to keep the suspension from becoming a distraction and said Sunday he’s relieved it’s finally over.

“We’re glad he’s back and we’re looking forward to seeing him play,” Richt said. “I’ll be glad to have this thing over with, no doubt.”

While others have speculated it may be difficult for Richt to remove Chubb as the starter, the freshman said after Saturday’s game he believes the job belongs to Gurley.

“I know I haven’t taken his spot,” Chubb said. “I am looking forward to Todd getting back on the field and playing with him. I miss him out there.”

Chubb handled a majority share of the carries for most of Gurley’s suspension. He said having Michel return after missing four games with the shoulder injury “took a lot off of my shoulders.”

Now that Gurley also is back, Chubb said he’s looking forward to again being part of a deep corps of running backs.

“I cannot wait,” Chubb said. “It will keep all of us fresh and ready to go.”

Gurley, a junior, continued to practice with the team during the suspension, though he didn’t have his normal reps with the first-team offense.

Richt said he doesn’t expect Gurley to have any difficulty adjusting to his first game action since Oct. 4 against Vanderbilt.

“We think he’s definitely got fresh legs,” Richt said. “I think he stayed in really good condition during the time he wasn’t playing. I don’t think you forget how to play football in five weeks or forget how to run it the way he runs it or the way he pass-protects or catches balls out of the backfield and all that. I think it’ll come back to him pretty quick.”

 

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