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Whicker: Todd Gurley catching fire for the Rams

By in Press Enterprise on January 4, 2018

By Mark Whicker

THOUSAND OAKS — The full weaponization of Todd Gurley began in Athens, Ga., where runners are mass-produced, then held to impossible specs.

“My high school coach told me Georgia was coming to see me and I was like, OK,” Gurley said. “And the guy (Bryan McLendon, now at South Carolina) came and started talking about Herschel Walker and I didn’t know a clue about Georgia football.

“When I went there and I found out that’s the expectation. They haven’t won (the national title) since 1980 and they compare everybody to Herschel Walker, the guy who’s going to lead them to the Promised Land.”

Gurley came from Tarboro, N.C., where the high school powerhouse mauled people with the “Tarboro T” and sometimes won games without passing. But Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo sensed the havoc Gurley could spread downfield. As a sophomore, Gurley caught 44 passes, mostly from Aaron Murray, Georgia’s all-time passing leader.

It was the rehearsal for several long-running plays with the Rams.

Gurley took a screen pass 80 yards to the end zone against Tennessee two weeks ago. He has caught 64 passes for 788 yards, second among NFL running backs to New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara. Four of his catches have spanned 40 yards. Gurley has been targeted seven times or more in seven Rams’ games, including 13 at Tennessee.

This rolls up defensive game plans and throws them into the trash.

“We would get him matched up against a 250-pound linebacker,” Murray said. “He could outrun them, and then he was too big for the DBs. He was very comfortable catching the ball, and it was comfortable for me because I could always check-down to him and know it might become a big play. He’s from the great tradition of Georgia backs, a beast.”

Like most football things, it didn’t really challenge Gurley.

“I’ve been playing […]    

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