Gurley back from suspension, listed as top RB for No. 16 Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. — Todd Gurley was back with the first-team offense and Georgia held its first practice for Saturday’s game against Auburn.
Gurley is returning from a four-game NCAA suspension for taking $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over two years.
Any uncertainty about Gurley’s status on No. 16 Georgia’s deep list of tailbacks ended when the junior was the starter on the updated depth chart released Monday for the game against No. 9 Auburn.
The depth chart can change during the practice-week schedule, but Gurley appears set as the starter.
Gurley was a leading Heisman Trophy candidate before the suspension opened the way for freshman Nick Chubb to emerge as a rising star in the Bulldogs’ backfield.
Chubb ran for 170 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 63-31 victory over Kentucky. It was his fourth straight game with at least 143 yards rushing.
Chubb ranks third in the Southeastern Conference in rushing. Despite speculation he might keep the starting job, Chubb said after the Kentucky game he was only filling in for Gurley.
"I know I haven’t taken his spot," Chubb said. "I am looking forward to Todd getting back on the field and playing with him. I miss him out there."
Monday’s depth chart listed Gurley, Chubb and freshman Sony Michel at tailback.
Michel missed four games with a shoulder injury before returning with 84 yards rushing and a touchdown against Kentucky.
Georgia still is awaiting the return of tailback Keith Marshall, who has missed six games with a sprained knee and ankle. Brendan Douglas is another option at tailback.
Gurley enjoyed a strong start and was the SEC’s leading rusher before having to sit out four games. He opened the season with 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Clemson. He added 131 yards with a touchdown against South Carolina, 73 yards on only six carries in a rout of Troy and 208 yards with two touchdowns against Tennessee.
Gurley hasn’t played since rushing for 163 yards with two touchdowns in a win over Vanderbilt on Oct. 4.
Saturday’s game matches the SEC’s top rushing offenses. Auburn leads the league with 286.4 yards rushing per game, followed by Georgia’s 256.3.
Despite missing four games, Gurley is ninth in the SEC with 773 yards rushing. His eight touchdowns on the ground still lead Georgia.
Coach Mark Richt said Sunday he hopes to take advantage of Georgia’s replenished depth at tailback.
"I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than just Nick and Todd in the ballgame at that running back position," Richt said. "Early in the year we did a good job of giving guys reps and hopefully we can continue to do that."