There are 130 FBS football programs in the NCAA, but Georgia holds the title for RBU. Two of them will be meeting in Super Bowl 53.
Super Bowl 53 is another reminder that Georgia is Running Back U.
There are pipelines when reporters discuss college football recruiting. That term refers to a certain college’s ability to recruit either an area or a particular high school. Anyone who follows the recruiting cycle is familiar with the term. Now it is being used for the transition from college to the NFL. Georgia is the latest school to brandish the honors of having a pipeline to the NFL with the running back position.
Super Bowl 53 features two of the best teams in the NFL. Each have former first round running backs on their roster. Both of those players are former Georgia Bulldogs.
Todd Gurley is one of the best running backs in the NFL, if not the outright best. He’s been a dominant force in the NFL since day one. His peak, occurring since Sean McVay took over, is a mix of a powerful between the tackles running and a threat out of the backfield. It was no surprise to see Gurley in the MVP mix a year ago and have a similar effort before being injured this season. Gurley did not mix words when asked about his former program.
Across the field is a rookie, Sony Michel, who was drafted in the first round less than a year ago. Michel had an up-and-down start to his NFL career but his talent is obvious. Once he took the reigns as the feature runner for New England, it was clear that he can be an elite option.
Both of these players are set to perform on the biggest stage. Gurley will be important for Los Angeles to control the clock and make life easier for his young quarterback, Jared Goff. Meanwhile, Michel needs to balance New England’s offense. He’s the compliment they’ve needed for James White’s pass-catching ability. He needs to keep Aaron Donald and company guessing up front.
The pipeline is drilled even further into the NFL than those two. Michel split carries in college with a fellow top-40 pick, Nick Chubb. Chubb was the fourth running back picked in the 2018 draft and the first in the second round. Another Georgia product, Chubb took over for Gurley and has been an elite athlete, even after suffering a brutal knee injury. He finished the season tenth in rushing, despite only starting the team’s last nine games.
The trend does not just stop with Gurley, Chubb and Michel. Georgia is preparing to put even more talent into the NFL.
The 2019 draft features another Georgia running back, this time with a different type of pedigree. Elijah Holyfield is the son of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. He’s an underrated prospect for this upcoming draft. Holyfield is coming off a season of over 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 6.4 yards per carry show that he has the home run ability but his power is his best trait when running the ball.
Like Chubb and Michel, and Gurley and Keith Marshall before them, Georgia split Holyfield’s work with another talented back, D’Andre Swift. Swift is a former five-star recruit that flashed as a freshman in Chubb and Michel’s final year. He will be a highly coveted back in the 2020 Draft. Both he and Holyfield will join the trio already playing on Sunday’s.
Finally, Georgia grabbed another five-star recruit in the class of 2018. Zamir White is a name to know down the line to continue the pipeline of talented Georgia backs going to the NFL. He was the No. 1 ranked running back in his class and will be a partner for Swift this upcoming season.
What is most special about this group is the different skill sets they all present. Chubb has the reputation as a power/between the tackles back. Michel was utilized as more of a zone/outside runner. Meanwhile, Gurley is a do-it-all type. They’re all more well-rounded than their reputation and it speaks highly of Georgia’s ability to develop the position for the way the NFL is trending.