Georgia or better known as RBU, Running Back U always has a group of talented running backs. The Bulldogs not only have one five-star but three. Despite losing Nick Chubb and Sony Michel last season, Georgia appears to have reloaded.
Looking Back at 2017:
The Bulldogs had two of the best running backs in school and football history. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel came back for their senior season, and it was a special one. Both players rushed for over 1000 yards on the season and led the team to its first national championship game in 35 years.
Chubb led the Bulldogs in rushing with 1,345 yards. He did this on just 223 attempts, averaging six yards a carry. Chubb had 15 touchdowns on the season. After his senior season, he became the second all-time rusher at the University of Georgia and the SEC behind Herschel Walker. Chubb was just 490 yards away from Walker. He finished with 4,769 career yards. Michel ran for 1227 yards on 156 carries. He averaged 7.9 yards a carry and scored 16 touchdowns.
However, we cannot forget about the guys behind Michel and Chubb. D’Andre Swift, a true-freshman, proved to the Bulldog nation that Georgia would be in good hands. He ran for 597 yards on 81 carries, averaging 7.6 yards a carry. He scored three touchdowns on the season. The most memorable one was the touchdown to seal Georgia’s victory over Auburn for the first SEC Championship in 12 years. Of course, I cannot forget, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien you came in to finish games and contribute when needed.
New Faces for the Bulldogs:
Georgia added two new running backs to the roster, thanks to the help of its 2018 recruiting class. Zamir White and James Cook were two of the best backs in the country according to the recruiting sites. On 247Sports, White ranked as the No. 1 overall running back while Cook ranked as the No. 3 all-purpose back. White stands at 6-1 220 pounds but carries that weight with ease. He’s another blend of power and speed as he runs a 4.35 according to his Hudl page. Cook is similar to a Michel type back. He’s slender quick and has an excellent set of hands. He’s a 5-11 181-pound back from Miami and if you recognize his name that’s because his older brother is Dalvin Cook, a former FSU running back.
The two backs compare to Nick and Sony when they came to Georgia and so the Bulldogs may be looking at another potential thunder and lightning duo.
Expectations for 2018:
Georgia returns just one major contributor to the running back group. Swift should lead the way for the Bulldogs and be the first-string running back. However, after him, the future appears unclear. By the beginning of football season, Georgia should have four healthy running backs, potentially five. It will be interesting to watch this group throughout spring practice since two of them only see minor parts of games.
Holyfield appears to have bulked up some this offseason while Herrien seems to have gained some weight too. However, Holyfield’s progression this season will be something to watch throughout spring ball. Will he take the responsibilities that come with being the No. 2 back or will someone else step up and take his spot? It’s hard to tell right now after two spring practices, but it will be something to watch.
Despite having two veteran backs ahead of them, I think White and Cook make an impact early. However, White did hurt his knee late in his senior season. He had surgery and enrolled early at Georgia. After the first week of spring practice, it appears White’s ahead of schedule with his rehab and has already begun running some. He isn’t participating in the contact drills and probably won’t this spring, but by fall camp, I expect him to be almost ready to go. As for Cook, he won’t be on campus until this summer, but I predict he picks up on the playbook and stuff quickly.
RBU stays RBU in 2018:
A lot of speculation surrounds Georgia’s running backs this spring. So many questions out there surrounding this group, and well it’s honestly too early to tell just yet. However, despite a lot of people thinking Georgia’s running game will be lackluster this season I have to disagree with them.
White is one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen in person. Football comes naturally to him, and I’ve heard experts compare him to Herschel Walker. Now, those are big shoes to fill, but he can handle it. Granted it will depend on how he continues to rehab and if he can mentally take a hit after the injury. Some experts tell me that if he can stay healthy, he will break Walker’s records, and after seeing him this week, I almost want to believe it. So this will be another area to watch.
Georgia’s running game isn’t going anywhere this year. Swift begins his reign as top-dog now, and it appears he fits the role naturally. He could potentially be in the Heisman race and go for over 1000 yards. If he consistently performs in 2018 and the Bulldogs find someone who compliments him, then Georgia should return to Atlanta come December. However, I expect all five running backs to get playing time this season and be successful.
Catch up on the other position groups in the 2018 UGA Football Spring Preview Series:
2018 UGA Football Spring Preview: Quarterbacks- CLICK HERE
2018 UGA Football Spring Preview: Defensive Line- CLICK HERE
2018 UGA Football Spring Preview: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends- CLICK HERE