HOOVER, Ala. – Sony Michel had never heard the sound of crickets, or seen the moon in a clear sky. He was from the city. To experience those seemingly simple frills, it took visiting the rural hometown of his Georgia football teammate, Nick Chubb.
A city kid. A country kid. An outgoing kid who started rapping in middle school. A quiet kid who would rather start a beer farm. (That’s right, beer.)
But they were also both tailbacks, and very good ones. The rest of the world already knows that. What the rest of the world doesn’t know is how close Chubb and Michel have become.
“It gets to the point where we’re starting to think the same thing sometimes,” Michel said. “Like, if I’m thinking a song, he might be thinking the same song, but I’ll sing it first and he’ll be like, ‘I was just thinking that.’ That’s when it kinda gets a little bit crazy.”
So it was only natural that they would decide to leave Georgia together. When Chubb decided he wanted to shock the world – and himself – and return for his senior year, he told Michel … who had come to the same conclusion himself.
And it was only natural that Kirby Smart picked both to come to SEC media days. Not just Chubb, second all-time on Georgia’s career rushing list, but also Michel, who enters the season 10th.
As they went through the media gauntlet – podium interviews, radio and TV sessions – they made for a fun pairing on Tuesday. Chubb may be the bigger star, but word quickly spread that Michel was the better quote. So in the main room Chubb had half the crowd as his friend.
Which was just fine with Chubb.
“That’s why I’ve got Sony. He enjoys it,” he said. “If y’all wanna go over there, you can.”
Smart, in his opening remarks, noted that Chubb was “the man of few words. Which is why he was an easy pick to come today.”
Not that either caused Smart much consternation with any bulletin board material. It raised some eyebrows when a quote emerged from Chubb, saying it would be great to beat Auburn four years in a row. But in all fairness, Chubb merely repeated a question with an obvious answer.
They both talked about some off-field pursuits. Michel a bit more than Chubb, however.
Michel recently recorded an “anthem” for Georgia football, his latest foray into music. The team had a DJ booth put into the locker room this summer, and Michel was shown at the controls.
“Rapping is just something I do for fun,” Michel said. “But mixing and mastering, that’s really unique for me.”
Chubb, meanwhile, wants to start a hop farm someday. If you don’t know what that is, neither did Chubb until recently, or Smart at all. Chubb, who comes from a long line of farmers and is majoring in Agriculture and Applied Economics, heard about a hop farm and did some research.
“It is for breweries, for beer,” Chubb said during a stop on the SEC Network. “I know in the past, it was not as popular. Too many people had it. People backed up, but nowadays it is kind of popular again. The idea sounded good to me.”
The two also have different styles of running: Michel is more speed and Chubb is more power. Michel is a more vocal leader, and Chubb leads by example.
Increasingly, they spend more and more time together. Like the other day when they went tubing, apparently at Chubb’s suggestion.
“I’m not a big water person. It was unique,” Michel said. “Tubing, it’s like teamwork. Unless you have enough teamwork, if you lean too much you’re going to flip over. So we had to have a gameplan.”
So the aspiring beer farmer and aspiring rapper went tubing. Fun story. But there’s a more serious side to the friendship too, one in which they compete, whether it’s on the practice field or the weight room.
Or, as they put it, they hold themselves accountable off the field.
“Knowing what’s right. Knowing who we are, and knowing when we’re acting out of character,” Michel said. “I think that’s really helped our friendship.”