Gurley was a big recruiting hit for Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. -- Believe it or not, Todd Gurley wasn’t that sought after during his high school days.

The Georgia running back might lead the race for the SEC’s top freshman in 2012, but a lot of schools passed on or totally missed out on Gurley -- and his talent.

Playing high school ball in Tarboro, N.C., Gurley didn’t garner much attention from a lot of big schools. It didn’t help that he didn’t play varsity football during his sophomore year, so he was behind most players in the recruiting process.

“I was in a small, 2A school in North Carolina in a small town,” Gurley said. “I know a lot of people never heard of me before.”

The main schools that Gurley said showed him much attention at all consisted of in-state schools and some ACC schools, including Clemson. But when Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon saw his film, he couldn’t wait to make the 430-plus-mile trek to get a glimpse of Gurley in person.

“As soon as I saw the film, it was everything you see on the field now,” McClendon said.

After three games, it appears that the bigger schools’ loss has been Georgia’s gain. The frosh leads Georgia and is fourth in the SEC with 276 rushing yards and has four touchdowns. He’s also averaging 9.9 yards per carry and has a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown.

Gurley said he wasn’t upset about being overlooked by other major SEC schools early and actually ended up turning some schools away when they came calling in December. Once he had his final list down, Gurley said he shut down most of his recruitment.

Now that Gurley has turned things on for the Bulldogs, his teammates couldn’t be happier. For one, he’s a special talent, but he also has made practice a little more lively and fun with his loose, funny personality.

While he might get a little quiet around the media at times, center David Andrews said he’s known to crack a few jokes here and there around his teammates.

“Todd’s a kid. I swear to God he’s about 13 years old,” Andrews said. “He is goofy.”

What keeps him from diving too deep in the silliness is his running back partner, and roommate, Keith Marshall. With his serious demeanor, Andrews said there’s a nice balance of work and play from the backs this year.

Gurley has already started to feel some of his celebrity status, but it makes him uncomfortable, which I’m sure his coaches appreciate. But Gurley still hopes to maintain some sort of a normal life. For one, he’d like his classmates to not be so shy around him.

“You can talk. I’m not a bad person,” Gurley said with a laugh. “I’ll be bored with myself, so I wouldn’t mind some communication.

“I’ll talk right back to them and let them know what it is -- whatever they want to talk about.”