‘Gurshall’: Georgia’s freshman tailbacks command attention

Todd Gurley plows through Vanderbilt defenders (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Todd Gurley plows through Vanderbilt defenders (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — As the hype builds around Georgia freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, one of their teammates has settled on a nickname for the duo.

“Gurshall, that’s what I call them,” wide receiver Tavarres King said.

As King excitedly enunciates it, the combination of the first syllable of Gurley and the second syllable of Marshall rhymes with … Herschel.

The wildly premature suggestion that the Gurley-Marshall tandem is somehow reminiscent of Herschel Walker, the greatest Georgia tailback, reflects the excitement the freshmen have stirred.

Keith Marshall breaks a Vanderbilt tackle (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Keith Marshall breaks a Vanderbilt tackle (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Tailback is a position that commands attention, good or bad. In the previous two seasons, Georgia tailbacks were known more for the bad — arrests, suspensions, dismissals, injuries. With Gurshall, things seem good again at the position.

“I went to the dining hall one day, and they started clapping,” Marshall said.

Another example of their celebrity: “Sat next to Todd Gurley at Zaxby’s,” a UGA student tweeted this week. “What are you doing with your life?”

Four games into their college careers, Gurley and Marshall have combined to rush for 670 yards and score 10 touchdowns. Gurley, the starter, leads the SEC in rushing (101.5 yards per game), scoring (10.5 points per game) and all-purpose yards (164.2 per game). His roommate and running mate, Marshall, has added 66 rushing yards per game.

In last week’s win over Vanderbilt, the duo combined for 212 rushing yards (Gurley 130, Marshall 82) and four touchdowns (two apiece). Each had a stirring TD run — Marshall a 52-yarder and Gurley a 29-yarder that featured several broken tackles and a safety stiff-armed to the ground.

“Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” King said of Gurley’s run. “Well, not live. I saw Herschel do something like that [on tape].

“When [Gurley] made that run, in my head, I heard Munson: ‘My God, a freshman!’” said King, referring to legendary UGA broadcaster Larry Munson’s famous call of Walker’s debut against Tennessee in 1980.

Gurley and Marshall, who grew up 70 miles apart in North Carolina and became friends after meeting at a high school track meet, are aware of their growing celebrity but seem unfazed by it.

“You have people come up to you and everything,” Gurley said, “but I’m still taking it the same.”

“They don’t get caught up in it, and probably the best thing as a teammate is knowing they don’t hold themselves so highly,” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “They just show up everyday to work.”

“They are mature beyond their years,” receiver Michael Bennett said. “Eighteen years old and all this attention coming on them — they’re handling it really well.”

They arrived in Athens after several troubled seasons for the tailback position; Caleb King, Washaun Ealey, Carlton Thomas and Isaiah Crowell drew suspensions for various transgressions and eventually left the team.

“In the past, it’s kind of been a never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get type of thing,” Robinson said. “When you have guys of high character that show up everyday to work, you can trust them and you don’t get as frustrated with them when things don’t go well. I guess, when things are different, you can kind of pinpoint that maybe that’s why we weren’t having the production — behavior issues and things like that. We don’t have that anymore, and this team is a lot better because of it.”

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon is keeping an eye on how Gurley and Marshall handle the adulation that comes with success, although he isn’t worried.

“I’m a part of the process of keeping them humble,” McClendon said. “But they come from a great family, both of those guys. They’re very humble people to begin with, so that’s not something you foresee being an issue at all.”

On the field, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound Gurley is a blend of power and speed, while the 5-11, 216-pound Marshall is a former high school sprint champion who once competed against Gurley in the 100-meter dash. “I won,” Marshall said.

“Those two guys are thunder [Gurley] and lightning [Marshall],” King said.

Off the field, Gurley is affectionately described as “goofy” by several teammates and does not disagree. “I just like to have some fun, pick everybody up,” Gurley said. “I probably am a little goofy.” Marshall is described as the quieter of the two.

“They both act like little kids. They’re really cheerful, messing around the locker room, joking,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “I don’t see them as guys who are going to let their fame or their success get to their heads too much and think they’re all that.”

– Tim Tucker

242 comments Add your comment

Maconbulldog

September 28th, 2012
7:22 am

GO DAWGS!!!!!!

Maconbulldog

September 28th, 2012
7:25 am

Now if Gurley and Marshall can do what Herschel did against TN……run over a guy and keep going…. I think that would be just awesome….. I am pumped for this year….

Jim

September 28th, 2012
7:27 am

Compliments to them and their parents

JB

September 28th, 2012
7:31 am

FINALLY, looks like the RB position is settling down after 3-4 years of drama and NO production from the position…….And it’s really opened up Murray and the passing game. If I’m an opposing DC, I ‘m shaking my head. Were to you line up to stop these guys?

Lakedawg

September 28th, 2012
7:32 am

Every indication suggests that they are both good citizens- appear to have been raised right. After Ealey, King and Crowell, that is so refreshing! It is great to have these young men in the fold- blossoming DGDs!

DawgLink

September 28th, 2012
7:33 am

Feed them the ball and let them eat!

Knute Rockny

September 28th, 2012
7:37 am

It seams that the Carolina connection keeps working for the Dawgs.
These young men show that physical ability and character form the total package.
I wonder if Barbara (dressed in her orange)will ask for “Gurshall’s autograph after the game on Saturday?

Chris

September 28th, 2012
7:42 am

I would love to see both in the back field to see what the defense would do.

chilidawg

September 28th, 2012
7:46 am

Surprise, surprise, surprise! College Gameday will be at an Ohio State game. For comic relief while watching the studio segment, mute your tv, turn on the closed captioning and try to read what comes across the screen while Lou Holtz is talking.

Fidlin1

September 28th, 2012
7:49 am

Athens is going to be a ‘Red Out’ tomorrow and anything Orange is on the Big Dogs plate. Let the Big Dog Eat!!!WOOF WOOF!!

MA English 75

September 28th, 2012
7:49 am

So glad they decided to come to UGA together!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 28th, 2012
7:51 am

Can we please stop with the Herschel comparisons

We continue to do this over and over when a tailback starts to have a few great games

This has gotten really old and stupid the last 30 years

Let these guys make a name for themselves which they are already doing now

Dawg Style

September 28th, 2012
7:51 am

Tailback news that is good. How refreshing.

WDE

September 28th, 2012
7:57 am

Unleash the “Gurshall” !! I kind of like the sound of that !

obamaSINLADEN

September 28th, 2012
7:58 am

LOSE the gurshell crap. let the guys enjoy their own accomplishments. stop comparing every rb at ga to hw. AND btw.lose bolts dont talk,he spits and sputters. all those tv guys are hi on them selves just enjoy the game the old fashioned way, radio. those guys are awesome.scott, jeff,eric,kevin…..pregame…postgame…gata d.

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:06 am

How lucky are we as UGA fans to witness the beginning of these two young Bulldawgs careers? This offense can be extremly good this year. As our Oline matures, so does the abilities of these two gifted kids. If that wasn’t enough, Murray leads this opera of offense like a world-class maestro conducting a major symphony. Bobo has choreographed his offense like a centralized explosion, expanding outward towards an unsuspecting defense. The only people not enjoying watching our offense work, are on the receiving end of our touchdowns. I was rough on Coach Bobo before the season started but alas, as his offense shines, so does his appeal to other colleges looking for a new star as their Head Coach. What a great time to be a fan at the UGA…

Jimmy Crack

September 28th, 2012
8:07 am

“I’m a part of the process of keeping them humble,” McClendon said.

Interesting that he said that. McClendon’s “process” of keeping his RBs in line has been a trainwreck for years. He is just lucky to have two talented players who are mature enough to not need his help.

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:09 am

“THUNDER & LIGHTNING!”…

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 28th, 2012
8:14 am

The talent we have on offense this year can be coached by a middle school coach

Bobo has yet to show game time adjustments to win big ball games

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:14 am

Law n Order
Spoken like a true jailbird. You seem to know alot about Athens po-pos, but little about Marshall & Gurley or “Where there’s Thunder, there’s Lightning! “…

NCDawg

September 28th, 2012
8:14 am

I think the nickname is funny but I’m with Flat Tire on the Herschel comparisons. Let the young men be who they are and do what they can do and not worry about trying to live up to a legend. There will never be another Herschel Walker and that is good. Trying to be someone other than who you are has caused unimaginable heart ache for millions maybe billions of humans. Maybe one day there will be someone better than Herschel… I don’t know how but it’ll probably happen.

hammerhead

September 28th, 2012
8:15 am

Love the pic of Gurley… Check out Artie Lynch finishing the drill!!

Rip Van Winkle

September 28th, 2012
8:17 am

Can I wake up from my 32 year sleep? Was Russ fathered by a MS State Dog?

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:18 am

Flats
Wake up in a bad mood? You can’t give credit where credit is due? Have patience or take some Midol…

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:22 am

Trolls are out in force today. Oh yeah, it’s Friday, Daddy gives them their allowance today after they take the trash out and clean their room, lol…

beanster

September 28th, 2012
8:23 am

Man, Random Thoughts. You sure are funny. How do you come up with such original material?

Probation officers, dwags….I am in stitches. You should quit your day job. Really, you should.

tigeruga

September 28th, 2012
8:23 am

Finally, Bobo gets what he needs to make his offense complete! These two young men are the complete package, well almost, when they start reading and picking up the blitz, the package will be complete! GO DAWGS!

tndawg

September 28th, 2012
8:24 am

Isiah CroWho?

tndawg

September 28th, 2012
8:24 am

Isiah CroWho?

DIT

September 28th, 2012
8:27 am

I agree with the Herschel comparisons. Let these 2 make their own name for themselves. They are doing great! They deserve their own identity. There will never be another Herschel Walker.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 28th, 2012
8:28 am

kingdaddy

what credit should be given?

What good team have we played yet?

Tennessee will only be a test for our defense as to how we can hold up to the pass

Bobo should be able to score 35 plus points against them

Daytona Dawg

September 28th, 2012
8:28 am

Those two (Gurley & Marshall) are way ahead of where I was at maturity-wise as a UGA freshman. If I had any talent I probably would have crashed & burned like Ealey or Crowell…

beanster

September 28th, 2012
8:29 am

You know what would be really funny? Making fun of a dead dog. That’s really funny. Pure hilarity in fact.

Random Thoughts = Sicko.

DIT

September 28th, 2012
8:29 am

@beanster

Great 8:23 post. That was funny. This Random Thoughts guy still thinks you were complimenting him.

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:30 am

Herschel was a unique player and person. To this day he still contributes to the community and the University. Just an outstanding individual. Gurley & Marshall will make their own mark at UGA, seperate from Herschel’s accomplishments. The idiot trolls hate the fact that UGA has these two fine kids staying out of trouble. It’s killing the tools, the trolls & the haters who are losers all…

bubba4dawgs

September 28th, 2012
8:31 am

It’s so refreshing to read something about the running back position at UGA that is positive! I don’t believe even CMR knew what he had in the Gurley and Marshall duo! I pray for their safety and continued success! They, no doubt, are the key to making the offense click. More focus on them is helping take a lot of pressure off Murray. Suddenly, I don’t hear as much bad mouthing about Bobo either. Hopefully, the naysayers are looking for rocks to crawl under.

I hope all the DAWGS bring their hob-nail boots to the game! I watched that game in Tennessee and knew it was going to be one of Larry Munson’s best calls! Talking about stunning over 100,000 people as the game ended! I’ve never seen so many mouths drop.

I live in Knoxville and wish to report that they are still talking about Herschel’s debut when he ran over Bill Battle on his way to the end zone! Just remember, Vol fans, it was Derek Dooley’s father, the wonderful and famous Vince Dooley who put Hershel into that game and turned him loose! GO DAWGS……do it again!!

DIT

September 28th, 2012
8:31 am

@kingdaddy – I could not have said it better!

PowerDawg

September 28th, 2012
8:35 am

Not ONE HELMET TAP between the two of them…man, I love these guys !!!

Get After Their A$$

Gary

September 28th, 2012
8:37 am

It is nice to read articles showing our players in a positive light. Hopefully they will enjoy reading stories like this and recognize how a dumb decision can change your image pretty quick in this sport. Getting a lot of positive character stories about J Jones, Murray and thow these two freshman. Go Dawgs!!! Keep up the good news.

Rob

September 28th, 2012
8:43 am

The numbers that they both wear put together make up Herschel Walker’s number…..Gurley #3 Marshall #4.

I also think both of them have a good head on their shoulders and won’t be like the other running backs we have had the last few years.

Also Richard Samuel deserves some credit too! His picture needs to beside the word “TEAM PLAYER”. He has done whatever is best for the team putting the TEAM over him.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:45 am

Flats
I like reading ALL of your post, bro. I’m not sure, but I think Mizz. Defense is ranked @ 26-27 in the country. Like I said, I’m not sure but in your defense, I want to see a high output against a top defense too. I on the other hand, like what I see and am stateing facts. Hard to bash the progress our offense has made. Have a great weekend dude…

dumptruck

September 28th, 2012
8:47 am

BOTH ARE DANG GOOD DAWGS! WE NEED A YARD FULL OF DAWGS JUST LIKE ‘EM.

NOW LETS GET OUT THE HOBNAIL BOOTS & STEP ON SOME FACES AND BREAK SOME NOSES.

beanster

September 28th, 2012
8:48 am

I might punch a Tech fan in the mouth today, just ’cause CPJ told me it was the right thing to do.

You better watch out, geeks.

McDawg

September 28th, 2012
8:49 am

Malcome is still the best pass blocker and hope he gets more carries

we still need to demonstrate that we can take the ball in the 4th quarter and drive it 80yds est clock and run the ball 4-5 yds a pop and Malcome is best suited for that

skeeter

September 28th, 2012
8:51 am

Lighten up People. Being compared to HW is the ultimate compliment not a slur. No one is suggesting these men be anyone but themselves.

Bulldawgman49

September 28th, 2012
8:52 am

FINALLY !!!! Get to see a real running attack with no hype behind it just pure talent and the SEC teams are getting nervous how in the world are you going counter this attack. And don’t forget Boo malcome in the mix too. And before the end of the year it will get even better. GO DAWGS!!!!

PowerDawg

September 28th, 2012
8:53 am

Flat Tire…
True, we haven’t played a top defense yet, but neither has Tennessee. Bray will hit a couple of big plays on us simply because of the number of times they throw it deep. It’s bound to work eventually.
Also, when we slam the door on their highly suspect running game, they won’t have any choice but to try and chunk it even more than they usually do. I don’t envision Bray remaining upright often enough to beat us in that way, and he doesn’t handle pressure well at all, so I expect us to pull away before the fourth quarter. We’ll have him throwing his helmet on the sidelines by then.

Dawgs by three touchdowns, 38-17.

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:55 am

bubba4dawgs
I lived in Gatlinburg for over 20 years and all my good friends made sure my UGA a$$ was at their house’s when our two teams played. To this day, UT is my second favorite team. Had to come back to Savannah to help take care of my family.(Dad had cancer and eventually passed, now Mom’s 84Still have two fine little hillbilly boys in the Burg and a little grand-daughter who is the light of my life. One day I will return. I love Tn…

kingdaddy

September 28th, 2012
8:59 am

DIT
THANKS…

Lonnie

September 28th, 2012
8:59 am

They have been great this year. Let’s leave it at that! The entire team is better and we have even more room for improvement! Let’s keep cheering them on. Flat Tire, I know Bobo has done some interesting things but let’s give him credit for the adjustments in the playcalling! 30.5 hours away from gametime!!!!!