Georgia's 2015 backfield is one of SEC's deepest ever
With Sony Michel and Keith Marshall on the mend, Georgia unearthed a new playmaker in the backfield this spring alongside Heisman candidate Nick Chubb.
If you hadn’t seen or heard of A.J. Turman before, this 52-yard touchdown run during the Bulldogs’ spring game is the perfect introduction:
— Kevin Causey (@CFBZ) April 11, 2015
Out-running Jeremy Pruitt’s secondary was common this spring for Turman who three times led the Bulldogs in rushing during live scrimmages.
Coming off foot surgery that caused him to miss all of the 2014 campaign, the third-year sophomore is back to full strength and rapidly moving up the depth chart in his backfield mates’ absence. There’s a chance Turman, who hasn’t yet appeared in a game between the hedges during his college career, leaps Marshall and competes for the lion’s share of second-team carries with Michel if his recent development surge continues.
Turman’s taken advantage of more reps and has made an impact on the coaching staff.
“I’m trying to use every opportunity the best I can,” Turman told the AJC during spring practice. “It feels great being out there once again.”
That’s four legit backs at offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s disposal next season along with a veteran fifth option — Brendan Douglas — who has performed well in mop-up duty over the last two seasons, rushing for 575 yards and five touchdowns on 139 carries.
“We’re all powerful running backs and that’s what Georgia produces, hard runners,” Turman said recently. “I feel like I fit in perfectly.”
Georgia’s 2015 backfield
- Nick Chubb, Soph. — 2014 five-star; SEC Freshman of the Year, 1,547 yards, 14 TD
- Sony Michel, Soph. — 2014 four-star; Avg. 7.3 yards per offensive touch as frosh, 6 TD
- Keith Marshall, Senior — 2012 four-star; 1,029 career yards, 9 TD (injury shortened)
- Brendan Douglas, Junior — 2013 two-star; 575 yards, 5 TD as career backup
- A.J. Turman, RS Soph. — 2013 four-star; Finally healthy and ready to perform this fall
Turman’s the latest highly-recruited running back Mark Richt’s been able to sign despite the abundance of talent at the position. He would start for half the teams in the SEC. A four-star out of Orlando, Fla., Turman’s emergence will not only take some of the pressure off Chubb and Marshall, but could give the Bulldogs’ offense some freedom with Michel, the unit’s second-fastest player behind Isaiah McKenzie.
Michel’s natural position is tailback, but much like Pruitt’s interesting conundrum on defense with immense depth at linebacker, Schottenheimer needs to try and get as many offensive playmakers on the field as he can (at the same time) in various formations.
Michel could line up wide or in the slot and be just as effective from a schematic standpoint since the Bulldogs are short on reliable receiving options — a McKenzie-Michel combo could be deadly.
Turman’s spring improvement means Georgia has yet another option in a loaded backfield. It’s up to Schottenheimer to ensure each player has an expansive role in the offense.