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Georgia depth chart breakdown: Running backs
We have officially entered the longest, most mind-numbing portion of the offseason. National Signing Day, spring practice, G-Day and the NFL draft are all behind us. All that’s left is to wait for the arrival of the preseason in a few (long) months.
But a surefire way to shorten the wait is to continue talking football. Thus, I begin a series of position-by-position breakdowns of the Bulldogs depth chart that runs the next few weeks. Up first are the running backs — and we begin with the departures of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Chubb and Michel were two of the best tailbacks not only in Georgia history, but in SEC history. And that’s individually. Together, they were the best running back duo in college football history, and they have the numbers to back it up — an FBS-record 8,382 combined career rushing yards. Obviously, no program has ever had to replace that kind of production. So how will Georgia do it?
Perhaps it won’t be that difficult because Georgia is Running Back U. And the Bulldogs will prove it this season.
It’s not just talent that makes Georgia RBU. It’s consistency. When Todd Gurley was out in 2014, Chubb stepped in without missing a beat. When Chubb was out in 2015, Michel stepped in without missing a beat. And now that Chubb and Michel are gone, a new crop of Bulldog rushers will step in, and they probably won’t miss a beat, either. Just like last season and the season before and the season before, tailback will be a position of strength for Georgia in 2018, and that won’t change anytime soon.
- D’Andre Swift, Soph. — Swift established himself as the heir apparent to Chubb and Michel as a freshman last season. He rushed for 618 yards and 3 touchdown with an average of 7.6 yards per carry. He’s as explosive as they come, best displayed by his game-breaking 64-yard touchdown dash in the SEC Championship Game. With a bulk of the carries likely coming his way in 2018, Swift is poised for a breakout campaign that could create some Heisman buzz.
- Elijah Holyfield, Jr. — Holyfield received limited carries in 2017, but played well when he did touch the ball. He finished his sophomore season with 293 yards and 2 touchdown on 5.9 yards per carry. He was one of the most impressive players in spring practice and could position himself as the No. 2 back, a role which should come with a hefty number of carriers.
- Brian Herrien, Jr. — But Holyfield will have his work cut out for him earning that No. 2 job. Not only will he have to beat a couple talented freshmen, he’ll have to beat his classmate, Herrien. Herrien rushed for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns as a freshman, but saw that production cut to 265 yards and 1 touchdown as a sophomore. There’s no doubt he has the talent to be a productive back at Georgia. But it’s unclear whether he has enough to rise to the top of the depth chart and not get lost in the shuffle
- Zamir White, Fr. — White is the X-factor of this group. He’s more naturally gifted than any other Georgia running back, and he enrolled early. All things being equal, he should be challenging for a starting job as a true freshman. But a knee injury his senior year of high school has put that in doubt. He was limited during spring practice, and it’s unknown if he’ll be ready to play when the season begins. If he can get his knee sorted and get on the field early enough, White has the potential for a Gurley- or Chubb-like freshman season. He’s that good.
- James Cook, Fr. — White’s presence has caused many Georgia fans to forget about Cook, one of the best running back recruits in the nation himself. Cook has the potential to be a star in his own right. He also has the pedigree. His brother, Dalvin, rushed for more than 4,000 yards at Florida State from 2014-16. Make no mistake. Either White or Cook or both will earn a lot of carries as a freshman. And get used to hearing the phrase “White and Cook.” It’ll be the new “Chubb and Michel.”
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Tom Crean lands first commit at UGA
Tom Crean has landed his first commitment since being named head coach of Georgia men’s basketball, which should bring the recruiting class of 2018 to a close.