Georgia has long since been an RBU. From Herschel Walker to Todd Gurley to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Dawgs’ running back alumni can stack up with anybody.

Who’s to say that we won’t be talking about one of the Bulldogs’ current running backs 10, 20, 30 years from now?

There’s a long list of them, as you know.

Zamir White, the 4th-year junior, is atop the list, the leading returning rusher who will be looking to reach new heights and increase his NFL Draft stock in 2021. James Cook, Mr. Versatile and the senior statesman hoping to improve his own draft prospects, is as much at home running the football as he is catching a pass from JT Daniels. Then there’s Kenny McIntosh, a 3rd-year player and the special teams ace, a threat to house-call a kickoff (although he hasn’t done it just yet).

The two “young guns” have something to say, too.

Kendall Milton came in with plenty of buzz, a fringe 5-star recruit from California who made his mark in 2020 despite some injury concerns but someone who is set to get a larger piece of the pie in 2021. Daijun Edwards didn’t receive quite as much attention coming out of high school, but when he got his chance last season, he took advantage.

Too bad Kirby Smart and Todd Monken can’t have all 5 on the field at the same time. But you can see that each of them has a specific role to play in this offense.

And if there’s one complaint that Smart has, it’s the relative lack of “explosive runs” from his backs. Georgia had just 14 rushes that topped 20 yards last season. In 2017, the Dawgs led the SEC with 47 such rushes, including 7 that went for 50+ yards.

“I don’t think our backs are any less talented last year or this year in terms of being able to have (those),” Smart said in his first preseason press conference of 2021. “A lot of it has to do with the way people are playing us. How can we make them pay for playing us with extra people? Then how can we block their extra people at the second level? We’ve had probably just as many what I call 7-, 8-, and 9-yard runs, but we haven’t had the explosives we’ve had in the past.”

Well, there was one: White’s 75-yarder to begin the Cocktail Party game against Florida.

Of course, there’s not a ton wrong with 7-, 8-, or 9-yard runs. But we saw plenty of examples last year of the Bulldogs’ rushing game not being able to quite take off. A prime example was the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati where Georgia ran the ball 24 times but managed just 45 yards. Against Mississippi State, it turned 23 carries into just 8 yards. Even a season-opening victory against Arkansas was a slog where the Dawgs ran it 42 times but managed just 121 yards, an average of just under 3.0 yards an attempt.

Sure, they won all 3 games. But imagine more games like the one against South Carolina or Missouri, 2 games where they broke the 300-yard barrier?

At the end of the day, Georgia largely proved that they could run the ball against teams they should have run the ball well on in the first place. It’ll face a challenge right out of the gate in Charlotte facing against Clemson, a Top 20 team in rushing defense a season ago led by Freshman All-American Myles Murphy. That shifts the focus to the Dawgs’ offensive line, highlighted by Smart as an area of concern going forward into 2021.

All told, Georgia ranked just outside the top 50 nationally in rushing offense and yards per carry in 2020. So while its rushing attack was good at times, it was far from dominant.

While the pecking order will essentially have White and Cook as Nos. 1 and 2 on the depth chart, there will be plenty of times when White and Cook are on the field together with White out of the backfield and Cook lined up as a receiver. McIntosh may continue to evolve into a versatile Cook-like player — he had 5 catches in the Peach Bowl — while staying involved in the return game. But consider this an extended audition for Milton this year, who could very well be RB1 in 2022 after Cook and White exit.

And, looking forward to next season, 2 more high-level recruits enter the fray in Branson Robinson, the No. 4 running back in the country, along with Jordan James.

Georgia’s offense will essentially thrive or punt on the right arm (well, maybe the right knee, too) of JT Daniels. But while we might not be talking about Cook and While in the same form and fashion we spoke about the dynamic Chubb-Michel tandem in 2017, adding another dimension into the offense in the form of a strong running game will be key if the Dawgs are able to navigate this upcoming season and hopefully find themselves back in the College Football Playoff.

They certainly have the personnel to do so. Now all that’s left to do is get results.