"I think most Heisman candidates – their numbers speak for themselves," he said. "They don't need – if you have to do a promotion to get a guy to be a Heisman Trophy winner you probably aren't going to win it. If he plays well enough, and we win he will be in the race. And my guess, and I might be wrong, but he might be in the top five of everybody's preseason Heisman."
"I would be surprised if he wasn't first or second team preseason All-American," Richt added. "In almost every single publication. I would be surprised if he wasn't.
I asked Richt the basic question, because sometimes the most basic question can be the most difficult to answer: "How good is Todd?"
"If Todd is healthy, and Todd is in shape he's… he's as good as anyone I have ever been around," he responded. "I saw film of Herschel Walker. I have seen film of other people, but to say who have I coached or had a close-up look at the guy? Todd could be as good as any of them."
Let me do a little Mark Richt translation as he's been hanging around Claude Felton too long and has been coached up to well over the years:
Richt did't mention Knowshon. There was no reference to any star player at Florida State. Richt didn't say anything about Aaron Murray – a four-year starter under center who was as good for Richt as he was consequential over the last four seasons.
He didn't mention those guys not because he doesn't respect them. He didn't mention them, quite frankly, because they are not as good as Todd Gurley is when he's healthy.
But he did mention Herschel Walker – the frame of reference to any Georgia running back ever. No one is ever going to be Herschel… that we know, but Gurley might be as close to him as we all see for some time.
When Gurley is healthy he's the best football player in the country… period. How can you tell? He's the only player who has run (not thrown) all through Alabama in his time as a college player. He's the only guy that's managed to run for over 100 yards against every legit program he's played over the last two years (look out Missouri… you've yet to get the full Todd Gurley treatment). Jarvis Jones may have terrorized the Gators, but Gurley has cost them the game the last two years, and yes, Gurley is better than Jarvis Jones.
Better than Jarvis Jones.
So back to what Richt said. He didn't mention David Pollack, but probably didn't because Pollack played defense. But I think there is a real case to be made that Gurley is better than Pollack was, too. The times are different, but the two are as frightening as they get for the opposition.
Pollack, however, was more in control of his temper than Gurley has been over his career. Maybe that's because Pollack was doing the tackling rather than the other way around. Being at the bottom of a bunch of football piles can be an unfriendly place to be after all… particularly if you possess the ball.
But if Gurley can improve his mental toughness as it relates to his ability to let some things slide on the field and get a little help from his running back friends on the field this year (something that really didn't happen last year) then he's going to have a year to remember.
And that year will probably end up with him on a flight back to Athens with a bronze statue.
Look, Georgia has to win. It can't be 8-5 in order for Gurley to win the Heisman. But if the Bulldogs win the SEC East, which is certainly very possible if not probable, then he's going to have the best chance to win the award since Garrison Hearst's shot in 1992.