ATHENS – Georgia tailback Todd Gurley was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman Player of the Week following his performance versus Buffalo, which will probably come as no surprise.
What might come somewhat as a surprise is that he had to share the honor.
Alabama tailback T.J. Yeldon split the award with Gurley. Yeldon was fantastic in the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide’s 41-14 win over No. 8 Michigan. He had 137 yards total yards on 12 touches (111 on 11 carries and one 26-yard reception) and one touchdown.
Gurley, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound freshman from Tarburo, N.C., had 227 yards on 10 touches (100 yards on 8 carries and 127 yards on two kickoff returns) and 3 TDs. Of course, Gurley’s work came against Buffalo, a Mid-American Conference team.
Nevertheless, Gurley is the first Bulldog to earn this honor in his first collegiate game. Gurley scored a touchdown on his second career carry — a 10-yard run off left tackle — then scored five minutes later on a 100-yard kickoff return. His 55-yard touchdown run, a gem in which he broke three tackles and stiff-armed two defenders to the ground, came on his final carry of the day midway through the fourth quarter. That made Gurley the first Bulldog freshman to go over 100 yards rushing in his season-opening debut since Danny Ware had 135 yards and 3 TDs against Georgia Southern in 2004.
Gurley’s 100-yard kickoff return tied the school, SEC and NCAA records. He was named the College Football Performance Awards National Kickoff Returner of the Week.
The question now is whether or not Gurley will get the start against Missouri on Saturday as the Bulldogs open their SEC slate on the road (7:45 p.m., ESPN2). This past Saturday’s starter, sophomore Ken Malcome, injured his left hand against Buffalo and was unable to return to the game. His injury was to be revaluated this week.
Coach Mark Richt was non-commital on Sunday. “Well, he’ll definitely get the ball, that’s for sure,” Richt said.
In the meantime, here were the other Week 1 award recipients in the SEC: