INDIANAPOLIS — Nick Chubb had something to tell Brian Herrien. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of a College Football Playoff game against Oklahoma, so it would have to wait.
The Bulldogs would go on to win that game, meaning Herrien would have to wait a little longer. Then Georgia played in the national title game, meaning all of Chubb’s and Herrien’s focus would be on that.
Shortly after that game both Chubb and fellow running back Sony Michel went right into training for the 2018 NFL Draft. Herrien and Chubb never got a chance to chat in person, leading Herrien to text Chubb to see if legendary Georgia running back was just messing with him.
He very much was not. Chubb had intended to tell him his message in person but instead had to resort to texting it to him.
“He was just telling me to go show them who you are,” Herrien said. ‘”Tell them that you can be a starter and show them that you can be that guy. Me and Sony was always telling you that.’
“He was always encouraging me. Always telling me that he could see it, that Sony could see it.”
As Herrien went on to play a key role on the last two Georgia teams and made key plays in rivalry games against Tennessee and Florida, he carried Chubb’s words with him.
“It meant a lot because he was an older guy and one who was there before me,” Herrien said. “He’s doing what he’s doing now in the NFL but for him to say that to me really meant a lot.”
Chubb went on to finish second in the NFL last season in rushing yards. But after speaking with a number of former Bulldogs at the 2020 NFL Combine, it’s clear to see the impact he and some of the other past Bulldog greats have on this next crop of Georgia standouts.
D’Andre Swift mentioned that both Chubb and Michel reached out to give advice about the NFL draft process, as did Mecole Hardman. Solomon Kindley, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson all spoke highly of fellow 2017 Bulldog Isaiah Wynn.
“He told me last year that I have a good chance of being drafted,” Thomas said of Wynn. “I just had to continue to work hard and do the things that got me here.”
Kindley compared Wynn to a big brother, while Wilson did the same in praising the relationship he had with Wynn.
“Big Wynn is like my older brother,” Wilson said. “I love the way he is, he’s a genuine guy. He gives me some pointers on certain things, helped me weed out certain agents in this process.
“He’s a great person to be honest with you.”
This act of giving back and providing tips and advice is a big part of the Georgia culture under Kirby Smart. He wants to encourage players to go on to have success at the NFL level, so that they, in turn, can help out future Bulldogs who are navigating the NFL draft waters.
This pays off in the long run as recruits notice which schools consistently put players in the NFL. The Bulldogs have had no problem landing high-profile running back and offensive linemen under Smart because the success guys like Chubb and Wynn have had.
Conversely, Georgia doesn’t have a single defensive lineman at the NFL combine. And that is a position that, until recently, the Bulldogs have struggled to attract elite talent.
With the way Georgia has things set up now, it’s a repetitive cycle. The Bulldogs have put great players into the NFL. Those players help the next wave of college standouts get to the NFL. All these players — the Bulldogs have 10 at the combine, tied for the third-most of any school — thus attract great recruits because they know Georgia can get them to the league.
And those players know that along the way they’ll get to play and learn from the likes of Chubb, Wynn and now Herrien, Swift and Thomas as well.
Georgia football running back Brian Herrien shares insight on Georgia football
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