Dawg Post sat down with Todd Gurley for the entire length of his interview before Media Days. During the nearly 30-minute session with the Georgia beat media, Gurley talked about the Heisman, his expectations for the 2014 Georgia Bulldogs and why he decided to separate himself from some of his childhood friends after he got to Georgia.
Question: What is your feeling about the year for you personally? Does it feel like a big or important year?
Todd Gurley: Important, yeah man. It’s going to be a very exciting year. It went by so fast. It will be exciting with camp in a couple of weeks. We will see how that goes.
Question: What’s been different with the new rules where you guys can be with the coaches at times?
TG: Oh, man.
Question: Not a great rule?
TG: No. It’s been crazy. They have been around. What’s it like – the mandatory eight hours?
Question: What has your view of Jeremy Pruitt been from across the field?
TG: (Laughing) I know he’s always at (Butts-Mehre). He’s always doing something. The guys seem to like him a lot--especially the defensive guys. I think they are going to have a lot of fun with him.
Question: I think a lot of Georgia fans liked what they saw of you last year and wished they could have seen more. How do you go into a year, knowing that you had some bumps and bruises last year? Do you have to just put that out of your mind all together?
TG: Yeah. You are just going out there and play like I play. I am not going to worry about getting hurt. If that happens, it is going to happen. I am not going to hold back from anything.
Question: What are your expectations of yourself this year?
TG: Just to play every game and help my team win. Win as many games as possible.
Question: Is the Heisman Trophy something that you aspire to?
TG: Not really. I feel like people get caught in the hype a lot about that. It’s not really. It is a team award. It is not a one-man award. You have to be on a winning team to win that award. You can’t be on an 8-5 team and win that award.
Question: When you look at yourself, what do you see as the biggest differences between now and when you first got to Georgia? Are there things you do now in the summer?
TG: Yeah. Summer time. I call that my time. It is my time to get better at a lot of things – eating, training – getting better at a lot of things. I have been training a lot harder. Just a lot smarter as far as how I work out; how I train; how I prepare for the games, and I am just more patient.
Question: How much will it help to get Keith Marshall back to as close to 100% as possible?
TG: Well he’s going to be back… so. That will be fun, man, just getting my boy back onto the field with me.
Question: Will that help take the pressure off?
TG: There’s really no pressure, but yeah, it will be fun. But we’ve got so many guys who can come in and do whatever I do – Keith, Brendan… there are a lot of guys.
Question: The incoming guys – what kind of contact have you had with those guys, and what have you seen from them this summer?
TG: I have been with those guys a lot. We do seven-on-seven. Those guys have been out there working. They are cool guys. They definitely know way more stuff than I did when I came in. They know a lot of stuff.
Question: Do you feel like you are a role model or a mentor to those guys?
TG: Not a mentor, but teaching them everything I know. I want them to be better than me. I am definitely teaching them stuff. Just the ins and outs of playing smart, staying low and using your hands. Just a lot of little things to work on.
Question: What do they know that you didn’t coming in?
TG: They know everything. I knew two pass plays and three run plays. They know protections and a lot of stuff. They are definitely doing way better than I was.
Question: You mentioned the Heisman is a team award. What do you think about this team?
TG: I am excited. It has been a crazy summer. It has been hot – especially during my workout time at 3:15. The team, you know, just seeing the new guys coming in and willing to work. I am pretty sure that we are going to see a couple of freshmen come in and play big minutes for us. Just the returning guys coming back – I am excited to see what those guys are going to do.
Question: The Wisconsin running back looked at your film. Do you do that sort of thing, and how do you think you stack up to him and other guys around the country?
TG: I think I might have watched his tape one time. I look at a lot of guys. I study my opponent. I look at Mike Davis – whoever – I watch their games. The stuff I am not doing… I want to add that to my game, too.
Question: Some freshmen stepping up. Who are some of the guys that you liked this summer?
TG: Freshmen. Oh man… some of the names. Dominick Sanders – the defensive guy – he’s been impressing me. Isaiah McKenzie. They still have a lot of things to work on, but just little things as far as when I came in – they are really far ahead of me when I came in. Rico Johnson. Of course Chubb and Sony. I can’t really think of other guys.
Question: A lot of times people say “Oh, Aaron’s left, so it is going to have be the Todd Gurley Show.” I am sure you will deflect that, but how important do you think it will have to be for you to play well?
TG: We did lose a great quarterback. He was here for four years. It is tough losing a guy like that. But from him teaching Hutson everything he knew… it’s like not losing anything. Huston has been prepared and waiting patiently for this time. He’s got his time. Hutson will definitely be ready. I have a lot of confidence in him. The whole team does.
Question: Do you think how you interact with the media should determines how people vote in the Heisman?
TG: I do think it is a popularity contest. If you have your little story, you are definitely going to get people around the world to like you. That comes with it.
Question: What’s your Heisman story, Todd?
TG: Typical story.
Question: If you were writing it.
TG: Young kid. Single mother. My siblings. Come from the bottom, and I am at the University of Georgia. I talk to my mother and brother every day. And we talk about how far we have made it so far. Just how could it be? It is definitely, definitely good.
Question: Do you get a chance to get back home much?
TG: Yeah. I mean I can go home, but I just don’t really go that much.
Question: How far a drive is that?
TG: About seven hours.
Question: And there’s no good way to go?
TG: Yeah, I’m not trying to drive that long. It is too far.
Question: Herschel Walker had 52 touchdowns in his career. Does that sound like a good number to you? Would it be nice to pass that mark?
TG: Really? I didn’t know that. That’s crazy. If it takes 52 or 54 for us to win as many games as possible. I will take that. If I only score five touchdowns, and we win every game, then I am fine with that.
Question: How good can this team be?
TG: It can be very good. Y’all know. Every year we are going to be very good. We just have to live up to it. We just have to do everything the coaches tell us and come together as a team.
Question: Has the work ethic this summer been there?
TG: Oh yeah. It has been extremely high. Better than ever for sure.
Question: What do you make of your offensive line? It is tough to be a pretty successful running back without those guys.
TG: My boys. They don’t get the Alabama, 6-5, 320 guys, but we get some good ones. I love our guys. They are just so close together with each other. I think that’s a good thing. They love us; they love quarterbacks, fullbacks and receivers. We just are all friendly. They all work extremely hard in their workouts in the morning and the afternoons. They are up there way more than us. Coach Friend makes them meet together and do drills. So definitely, they are putting in the hard work.
Question: How long does it take you to really get worked up into a game? By the 3rd or 4th quarter you can really get it going on the field with talking to guys on the other team, and on your team.
TG: Yeah, that’s what I do. I am a talker, man. That’s what defensive players do – talk. But I just like to shut them up. They know sometimes just not to talk because sooner or later they are going to be quiet for a while.
Question: That’s the thing about these guys saying they look forward to hitting you. Is that something they should be saying?
TG: You know if that is their goal, that’s their goal. That’s the game. It’s competitive.
Question: Are you approaching this year like it is your senior year if everything goes to plan?
TG: I approach every year like that. I am going to try to get better and better each year. I am going to play harder than I did the last two years.
Question: Injuries are inevitable with the position you play. Is there a way to prepare yourself for that?
TG: Yes. Never stop moving your feet. Stay low. Little stuff like that. A lot of guys stop their feet, or someone rolls them--or not staying low.
Question: Did that affect your conditioning because you were not about to stay on your feet all of this past fall?
TG: For sure. I wasn’t able to – the only thing I was able to do was pool work, so that messed with me. I didn’t play a game for a whole month. That will mess with you. That kind for killed me.
Question: Where were you with LeBron going back home?
TG: He’s smart. He’s the smartest man on the planet. That dude – he’s going to be a billionaire one day.
Question: When you see the NFL Draft and your position not being respected very much in the first round of the draft like it used to be – what do you think of the value of your position?
TG: I get that question all of the time. I think you have to make someone want you. It is all about your performance on the field. That’s why I am trying to make someone take me with the first pick or the second pick. So I am going to go out there and give it my all and play hard.
Question: Do you think Chris Conley will be remembered best as a football player or something else?
TG: That’s a good question. Whatever he does he’s going to be great at it.
Question: Can you talk just a second or two about your relationship with Bryan McClendon and how that went down with you picking Georgia?
TG: Yeah, BMac, man he’s always on me. He’s always texting me and wanting to meet with me. He does it for the good to make sure that I am focused and staying on track. I just had that connection with him as far as recruiting was concerned. My mom loved him.
Question: He was very low key through the whole thing?
TG: Yeah, he didn’t have to do too much. It was just that connection I made with him the first day I met him, and he was talking about Georgia. I didn’t know anything about it. He was like: “Herschel Walker.” I was like: “Who?” Then he explained everything to me, and it went from there.
Question: In Athens does everyone recognize you in class and everywhere? How much of an adjustment was that to get used to?
TG: Yeah, that was an adjustment. A little crazy. It was all good.
Question: Did you understand it?
TG: Um. Yeah, I guess that’s what comes with it.
Question: When did that start?
TG: My freshman year.
Question: Can you recall when? After the Buffalo game?
TG: Probably. I think I came into class after that game, and they started clapping. Actually it might have been after the Florida game. That’s when it really started.
Question: How proud are you of what you have done considering how hard it has been?
TG: Man, so proud. I am proud that I was able to stay focused and out of trouble. I have a lot of my friends that didn’t go to college. Some went to college and flunked out. I am glad I was able to focus. Those guys are still my friends, but I am willing to separate myself.
Question: How tough was that? Because some people can’t do that.
TG: It’s not tough. I know what I want for my life.
Question: Did they get that?
TG: I mean, they do now. I have, I call him my mentor, Coach Jenkins – my high school basketball coach. He always believed in me. He saw something special in me from the day he met me in eighth grade. He showed me the ropes and helped me a lot. He stayed on me all of the time. He’s a great inspiration. My teachers always believed in me, too.
Question: Tarboro isn’t that big. How much do you still keep up with the team there, and folks there?
TG: It’s not big at all. I still keep up with people there. I call him my little brother Deshan (Farmer); he’s going to be a senior. I didn’t get to see a game last year, but I am definitely going to try to see a game this year.
Question: Your coach said that you really legitimately didn’t know what you were going to do (picking a school).
TG: I didn’t tell anyone where I was going to go the day of. The only person I told was my mom. I really didn’t know until two days before. It wasn’t a known thing. I was going to commit on this day, and hopefully I was going to have a decision by then. I mean, I always kind of had Georgia. I wanted Clemson, but Georgia was where it was at, and that’s where I picked.
Question: Everyone is going to talk about the Heisman. How much do you think you are going to hear about that, and when do you think it is going to get old?
TG: Yeah. It will get old real quick. Probably in the preseason. People get real hyped up about this stuff, which is good, but you haven’t done anything, so it really doesn’t mean anything.
Question: Take me through that leaping touchdown at Georgia Tech
TG: Well, of course, you know I am known as a receiver now. So I got out on my route. I got a little step – I caught the ball with one hand from Hutson. I just saw the defender. I don’t know why I am jumping. But it was instant (snapping fingers). I just jumped. Yeah. I didn’t have to jump, but I guess it made it exciting.