ATHENS — While quarterback news made waves the day before, the announcement of Georgia’s pecking order at tailback lacked any drama.
Sophomore Nick Chubb claimed the No. 1 spot, followed by sophomore Sony Michel, fourth-year tailback Keith Marshall and junior Brendan Douglas.
“I challenge those guys to push each other,” running backs coach Thomas Brown. “I don’t play them against each other. I don’t want them to hate each other at all. We’re going to be very close in that room, but again, it’s a competition.”
After rushing for 781 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman, Marshall, who was the most anticipated running back in the 2012 class that included Todd Gurley, has played in only eight of the Bulldogs’ last 26 games due to injuries.
Like Marshall, Brown suffered a torn ACL during his playing career. Marshall said Brown understands when he needs tell players to “push through,” moments of practice.
“I don’t feel like I ever lost my confidence,” Marshall said earlier this month.
Marshall is officially listed as a co-third teamer with Douglas, who is one of the team’s most experienced tailbacks. Douglas, who flipped into the endzone last season for a touchdown against Missouri, has seen meaningful playing time during the last two seasons when others were hurt or suspended.
But it’s not just experience that has Douglas poised to play.
“Experience is part of it, but he’s a very versatile guy,” Brown said. “He can catch the ball in the backfield, he does a great job in pass protection. So I have no hesitation at all putting him in the game.”
Brown said those four tailbacks are the ones he’s getting ready to play. A.J. Turman, the redshirt sophomore, is on the outside right now, but as the last few years have shown he better be ready to play.
Georgia has experienced plenty of turmoil at the tailback spot in recent years. From Isaiah Crowell’s dismissal, Gurley’s suspension and injuries to all of the above, Brown reiterated the benefits of having a stacked depth chart heading into the season.
“Depth is always great, especially in the running back spot ‘ cause guys can go down like that,” Brown said. “It’s a brutal position. I push those guys hard. I harp on being physical. We take hits every play.”