INDIANAPOLIS — Nick Chubb and Sony Michel didn’t develop any bad blood with each other while sharing the football at Georgia, and they’re not starting now.
Mention a potential “rivalry” and you are quickly corrected.
“There’s no rivalry,” Michel said at the NFL combine. “Just friends competing with each other. We don’t call it a rivalry, we just call it a competition.”
Both players are part of a deep running back class that pro teams are attempting to analyze this week. Given the nature of the event — which includes several timed tests and measurements — it would be natural for the longtime teammates to, say, wager a trip to Waffle House on the results of the three-cone drill.
The idea sounded foreign to Chubb.
“[Do we have] any bets?” he said. “Can’t say we do.”
They’ve been on the same page for a while now. Last year, when both were deciding their football futures, they arrived at the same decision: They would return for one more season in Athens.
“We were thinking the same thing the whole time, but we never came out and said it to each other,” Chubb said. “I knew in my mind I wanted to come back. He wanted to come back. He kind of spoke up and said it first. I let him know that’s how I was feeling, too. Let’s come back another year for our teammates and for everyone around us, and it worked out.”
Chubb was the bell cow for the Dawgs as a freshman in 2014 before an ugly knee injury ended his sophomore season early. That allowed Michel to emerge as a 1,000-yard rusher, and the pair existed harmoniously for the bulk of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
They led Georgia to a Rose Bowl victory and a national title game appearance last season.
Arguably Georgia’s best one-two backfield punch since World War II, their career combined numbers are astonishing: 8,382 rushing yards, 982 receiving yards and 87 total touchdowns.
“Having somebody there as good as he is just helped me want to better my game every day,” Michel said. “There were no days that I stepped on the field and I didn’t want to give my best. He brought the best out of me.”
Chubb said the balanced attack helped each player maximize his potential.
“It kinda made things a lot easier for both of us,” he said. “To not have one person carrying the load, going out there and having fun and making plays and making plays together as good teammates and good friends. It was fun.”
Per NFLDraftScout.com, Michel and Chubb are the fifth- and seventh-best running back prospects, respectively, in the draft this year. It’s highly probable both will be drafted, but it’s tough to project when they will come off the board.
Knowing them, they might just go back to back.
“We might joke around on who has the better numbers, but it’s not all about us competing against each other,” Michel said. “He’s going to be the best he can be, and I’m going to be the best I can be. I know he’s going to have good success, and hopefully I can do the same thing.”