Gurley tries to stay on straight and narrow at UGa

Associated Press Modified: September 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm •  Published: September 6, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Todd Gurley knows the storied history of Georgia's running backs.

Herschel Walker. Terrell Davis. Knowshon Moreno.

He also knows the much different path taken by some of his more recent predecessors.

Isaiah Crowell. Washaun Ealey. Caleb King.

All arrived on campus with plenty of hype. None of them lived up to it between the hedges, their careers sidetracked by everything from off-the-field troubles to pompous attitudes.

Gurley is determined not to go down that path.

"You just want to stay on top of things and try not to make the wrong decisions," he said. "It's so easy to get in trouble and so hard to get out of trouble."

So far, he's off to a good start.

Gurley had quite the debut for the Bulldogs (1-0) last Saturday, rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. That's not all. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, leading No. 7 Georgia to a 45-23 win over Buffalo.

It seems just a matter of time before Gurley takes over as the starter — perhaps as soon as Saturday night's first Southeastern Conference game at Missouri — but Gurley shot down that sort of talk.

He wants to fit in with his teammates and quietly earn everything he gets. He quickly deferred to the guy who started the opener, third-year sophomore Ken Malcome.

"Ken is the starter," Gurley said, more decisive about the depth chart than even the coaching staff. "He started the last game. He's still going to be the starter this game."

No matter who takes the first snap, Gurley will surely get plenty of playing time against the Tigers (1-0). Coach Mark Richt is impressed with the freshman's physical tools, but seems more excited about the intangibles.

His humble demeanor. His willingness to listen and learn.

"Everything I've seen so far has been outstanding," Richt said. "He got a couple of As in classes he took this summer. He showed up to everything we asked him to show up to, on time. He's got a good attitude. He doesn't seem to have a sense of entitlement."

Those were telling words from a coach who clearly went a bit overboard after the Bulldogs landed Crowell, the state's top prospect a year ago. He was essentially anointed the starter on signing day, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that he showed up in Athens like he owned the place. He turned up hours late for a scheduled interview session. He treated schoolwork like an imposition. He failed a drug test, loafed at practice and irritated his teammates.

Even though Crowell showed plenty of promise on the field, leading the Bulldogs in rushing and winning the SEC's freshman of the year award, it wasn't much of a surprise when he was arrested on a felony weapons charge after the season. He was quickly booted off the team by Richt, who is determined not to make the same mistake with Gurley or another freshman back, Keith Marshall.

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