LOS ANGELES – Yes, Trey Sermon admitted, there’s a little extra motivation with Georgia being Oklahoma’s opponent in the Rose Bowl.
A very productive freshman running back for the Sooners, Sermon said he “went deep” in his recruitment with Georgia. He’s hails from Marietta and attended the same high school as Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship. He’s acutely aware of the Bulldogs’ tailback tradition and was enamored with the idea of becoming another chapter in it.
Alas, there was no room for him. Sermon would’ve come in the same class that brought D’Andre Swift to Athens and saw Georgia cut ties with a longtime and talented commitment in Toneil Carter three weeks before he was scheduled to enroll. Carter ended up at Texas.
So, Sermon gets it and says there are no hard feelings.
That said, he sure would like to beat Georgia on Monday.
“It just makes you want to play a little bit harder because I love competing,” Sermon said. “Just knowing I’m going against my home school makes me want to go out there and perform.”
Sermon has definitely been doing a good job for the Sooners since showing up. He has played in all 13 games with three starts. He’s the team’s second-leading rusher with 710 yards, has another 139 yards receiving and has scored 7 touchdowns this season. Sermon also has a 42-yard pass to his credit.
Essentially, Sermon has lived up to all the billing he received when he left Marietta as the nation’s No. 9 running back, according to ESPN. And he has proven to be a very good complement to Oklahoma’s featured running back, Rodney Anderson. The redshirt sophomore has 960 yards rushing and 11 TDs.
“It’s been kind of a good tandem,” said Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, whose team has averaged 215.9 yards rushing a game. “Not just those two, but Abdul (Adams) and Marcelias (Sutton), too. It’s kind of been kind of the four-headed monster for us. They’ve done a great job managing it. They’re all very unselfish, all ready to go.”
Of course, Georgia has been running the ball effectively as well. Behind Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Swift, the Bulldogs average 263.5 yards rushing a game.
Sermon said he knows all those guys well. He got to know them during the recruiting process. In the end, though, he is thrilled to have ended up in Norman, Okla.
“Georgia was definitely one of my top schools at the time,” he said. “But once I visited (Oklahoma) a couple of times, I just felt like it was the best place for me. … I definitely wanted to see some different scenery and really just get away from home.”
To have drawn the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff semifinals was an unexpected bonus.
“Once I saw we were playing Georgia it was exciting,” said Sermon, who was honorable mention for Big 12 freshman of the year. “I know a lot of the guys on the team. Just knowing I was going to get to play against them was pretty exciting.”