Georgia has hit it big with five-star running backs past 5 years
Georgia’s recent history of five-star recruits show some game changers, contributors and a little bit of attrition. For the most part Georgia has had good success with the five-star prospects, but there are a few cases of “what might’ve been.”
Isaiah Crowell, RB: For one year it looked like Crowell was going to be the next big thing. He started nine games as a freshman and rushed for 850 yardsd and five touchdowns. He was named Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press and SEC Freshman of the Year. He showed signs of greatness against Ole Miss and Auburn before an ankle sprain slowed him down at the end. And just like that he was arrested on felony weapons charges and gone. Crowell transferred to Alabama State and declared for the NFL Draft after the 2013 season. He was undrafted and signed by the Cleveland Browns, where he is the starter in a timeshare with former Miami running back Duke Johnson.
Ray Drew, DE: Drew had one great nicknames — “Pastor of Disaster”… not quite “Minister of Defense” but really close. Drew’s career at Georgia is solid but most fans probably wonder what might have been if he could have taken another leap forward. He played in 46 games over four years with 18 starts. His best season was 2013, with 43 tackles, six sacks and eight tackles for loss. He went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft and has bounced to a few practice squads.
Keith Marshall, RB: Marshall entered college with whispers about his knee and unfortunately they came to pass as his career progressed. As a freshman, however, Marshall and fellow North Carolina prospect Todd Gurley (a four-star recruit), combined to be one of the best backfields in the conference. Marshall rushed for 759 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman. He tore his ACL midway through his sophomore season and struggled with injuries in 2014 that made him take a redshirt. With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel ahead of him on the depth chart in 2015, Marshall played sparingly and only received double digit carries three times. He has declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.
John Theus, OT: Back in the day when I was put in charge of trying to convince certain prospects to play in the Under Armour game, I missed on three players. Theus was one (another was Clemson DB Mackensie Alexander … the third we’ll get to later). Theus played in 53 games and started 48 during his four years at Georgia. He was named a Freshman All-American but several publications and was named to the All-SEC first team in 2015.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, DB: Clemons had an interesting signing day too as his family was split between Florida and Georgia. Eventually he chose the Bulldogs and played in 25 games total and started 11 games, all in his sophomore season. Harvey-Clemons broke out as a sophomore with 66 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and an interception. He was dismissed from Georgia after a second drug-related suspension and transferred to Louisville, where he played in 2015.
Jordan Jenkins, DE: Jenkins played 52 games (44 starts) over his four-year career at Georgia. Jenkins never had a real breakout season but was a model of consistency. His best season may have been 2013 when he had 45 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks and 23 QB hurries. He had 70 tackles and five sacks as a junior and 59 tackles and four sacks as a senior. For his career Jenkins had 19 sacks and 40 tackles for loss.
None (highest-rated player was Tray Matthews, who was dismissed after one season.)
Lorenzo Carter, DE: Carter had a strong freshman year making five starts with 41 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He took a step back in 2015, however, with just 19 tackles and two forced fumbles in 13 games (two starts). Next season appears to be a make or break season for Carter and it will be interested to see how he performs under new coach Kirby Smart.
Sony Michel, RB: Michel started the 2014 season behind Gurley and even with Chubb (Chubb took over the starting spot when Gurley was injured). He rushed for 410 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. With an injury to Chubb five games into the 2015 season Michel took over and posted big numbers — 1,161 rushing, eight touchdowns. Michel is also a solid receiver and had 26 catches for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
With Michel and Chubb healthy next season the Bulldogs will have one of the best backfields in college football.
Nick Chubb, RB: Chubb had one of the greatest freshman seasons for a running back in college football history. After rushing for 1,547 yards and 15 touchdowns in eight starts (once Gurley went down with injury), Chubb established himself as the nation’s top freshman and won virtually every Freshman award available. Chubb was also an AP and Coach All-SEC first team selection.
He was back for more as a sophomore and firmly entrenched as a starter with the departure of Gurley. Chubb had 747 yards through about 21 quarters of work before suffering a knee injury against Tennessee that sidelined him for the rest of the season. If he can return to full health, Chubb should be in line for another 1,000-plus yard season regardless of how much time he shares with Michel.
Trent Thompson, DT: Thompson, the No. 1 defensive tackle in his class, worked his way into more playing time at Georgia as a freshman. He appeared in 12 games and had 25 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss with a half of a sack. Expect a much bigger role for Thompson in 2016.
Terry Godwin, ATH: The TaxSlayer Bowl was hopefully a good indication of what’s to come for Godwin. He threw a touchdown pass and caught another all while showing some serious top-end speed. Godwin was second on the team with 35 catches, 379 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman.