ATHENS – Nick Chubb’s mind was made up five days ago. He was going to leave Georgia, just like most everyone had expected, including himself. And then someone talked him out of it: Nick Chubb.
“It just didn’t feel right. I felt like if I needed to leave I’d feel it and be able to accept it and move on,” Georgia’s star tailback would recall days later. “Something kept telling me, Nick maybe not right now. It’s not the right time.”
So he stayed up late at night, thinking over it more, talking to close friends, talking to family. He thought about all the reasons to go pro, and realized that it was more about leaving Georgia, leaving behind a season that had not gone well for his team or himself.
“It all came back to the kind of person I am, to not just leave because things aren’t going your way,” he said. “But to fight through your problems and the adversity, and that’s what I feel I did.”
So Chubb shocked many on Thursday by announcing, along with three other junior teammates, that he would be returning for his senior year.
This wasn’t an easy season on the field for Nick Chubb. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)
It’s a decision that goes against the conventional wisdom: Tailbacks don’t usually come back when they have the chance to go pro. Especially when they’ve had a knee injury. And especially when there’s no promise that Georgia’s offensive line – which will lose three seniors – will be any better next season.
Chubb was thinking that way too for awhile.
“My mindset was also, I need to go out there and get this money while I’m still walking, there’s no telling how long my knee may hold up,” Chubb said. “So when I thought about that in my head, (I realized), Nick this isn’t you, you’re not the guy to run from any problems. So instead of run from it face it, face to face.”
The way the regular season ended, with the 28-27 loss to Georgia Tech, actually sparked Chubb to re-think things. Walking off the field and seeing Georgia Tech players waving their flag on top of the Georgia midfield logo made him not to want to go out that way. Not just with that loss, but with this season.
Due mostly to offensive line struggles, Chubb’s junior season has been his least productive, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, compared to 7.1 as a freshman and 8.1 as a sophomore. He answered the questions about his surgically-repaired knee with the season-opening 222-yard performance against North Carolina. But he’s only surpassed 100 yards three times in the other 11 games.
“The way we executed as a whole was maybe different, a lot of areas we need to clean up, not just in the offensive linemen, there’s plays that I could made and should have made that I didn’t make, so I’m very critical of myself and this whole team,” Chubb said. “There’s a lot of things we need to fix, and I’m willing to come back and just go at it, and get this team right. Because the way I would have personally went out was not the way I felt would be best for me, and I felt we should change that.”
Chubb also discounted the notion that running backs, who only have a certain amount of years to play, need to go the first chance they have.
“Yeah I thought about that too, but if you really think about that it, one year, will it really have that much effect on me?” Chubb said. “You never know, because I hope to go and play a long time, but one year off, one year not in there, maybe I wouldn’t need that year, you never know. But I can go in there and get hurt. Injuries are not really on my mind. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
Chubb said he didn’t get a draft grade from the NFL advisory committee. He’s not being projected as a first-round pick.
So is the decision final? What if Chubb goes out in the Liberty Bowl and has another huge performance, and NFL people start talking him up? The deadline to declare isn’t until January 16.
“My mind’s made up, so that won’t change anything,” Chubb said, then smiled. “But that would be great, to carry some momentum into next year.”