ATHENS — I know Todd Gurley about as well as anybody on my side of the business, I guess. That is, I was there when he showed up at UGA as an under-valued recruiting prospect. And I watched him skyrocket from there, starting with that electrifying kickoff return for a touchdown against Buffalo in his first game as a freshman and culminating with that spectacular (yet negated) kickoff return against Auburn in his last game as a junior.
Todd was never what I’d call warm and fuzzy. I’d describe him more as guarded and skeptical, especially when it came to those of us in the media. There was a stretch there that reporters jokingly referred to him as “Todd Surly.”
But I never took it personally. We all have jobs to do, and anybody who watched Todd Gurley play football couldn’t help but admire his God-given ability and supremely-motivated work ethic. He was simply special on both counts.
All that is coming into fruition now in the NFL. This past weekend, Gurley received the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. And for the first time on the public stage, in my recollection at least, Gurley was overcome with emotion.
And who could blame him? From the controversy that struck him that final season at Georgia, to laying on his back on the Sanford Stadium turf with his knee in the air that cold November night, to having the St. Louis Rams take a chance on someone considered damaged goods before last May’s draft, there was a lot of build-up inside Gurley’s heart.
Then fast forward to being presented the OROY Award from a childhood idol such as Barry Sanders after rushing for more than 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns after missing the first three games of the season, well, you can’t help but feel really good for the young man.
Him finally giving way to those emotions he works so hard to keep in check? That was actually nice to see. Click here to see his interview with the Alex Flanagan of the NFL Network and commentary about it.
Way to go, Todd Gurley.
"The humility factor… the tenderness in this young man's heart…"
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) February 12, 2016