ATHENS — I’m going to go ahead and call it. You’ll see Nick Chubb play in Georgia’s opener against North Carolina in the Georgia Dome.
I’m not here to say I told you so, but coach Kirby Smart’s comments regarding the Bulldogs’ star tailback corroborate what I’ve been hearing on Chubb for a while now. That is, not only is the rising junior healing up nicely from his knee surgery, he’s actually ahead of schedule.
“This guy is working tremendously hard,” Smart said at his spring practice news conference on Tuesday. “He is dead on schedule. If you ask Ron (Courson, UGA’s director of medicine), he’s probably a little bit ahead of schedule as far as what we expect of him.”
Last month, Chubb’s father spoke of his son eying that first game. It was about four weeks ago that a video surfaced of Chubb running full speed on a treadmill in UGA’s training room. On Tuesday, Smart spoke of Chubb running on the field now, “and not just straight ahead” but also stretching and cutting.
“We’re excited about where he is and he has progressed really well,” Smart said. “He’s a kid who obviously overachieves anyway, but he’s been overachieving in rehab as well.”
That was apparent later in the afternoon Tuesday when the Bulldogs took the field at their temporary set-up at the Club Sports Complex. With Courson always close by, Chubb was jogging and high-stepping back-and-forth in 40-yard intervals. He even took a few handoffs from his tailback position and once lined up as the Wild Dog before being shooed off to the side of the field.
Chubb suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament and some residual damage in his left knee on the first offensive play of the Tennessee game last Oct. 10 in Knoxville. So it will have been 349 days — or 10 months and 24 days — since then when Georgia kicks off against North Carolina on Sept. 3. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, rehabilitation from such surgeries “typically takes six to 12 months.”
The thing is, nobody at Georgia thinks anything is typical about Chubb.
“He’s doing good with his overall recovery,” said fellow tailback Sony Michel, a close friend. “That’s not something we even focus on, the injury. I have faith him that he’s going to come back and be healthy, strong, fast as ever.”
While markedly more optimistic about Chubb that he was even a month ago, Smart was not willing to predict when he might be back on the field.
“I think that’s hard to say right now,” Smart said. “He’s on schedule where he has to be right now. I’m not forecasting forward to say he’s going to 100 percent the first day of practice in fall camp. We’ve got to determine that as we go.”
Now, at least, they’re talking about camp. That first game ought to be a cinch.