UGA To Redshirt Keith Marshall?
Two years ago, it appeared running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall had a chance to be a historically special tandem. Now they may never share a backfield again.
After an injury-filled 2013 that sidelined both players for significant time, during which Marshall tore his ACL, Georgia is considering a redshirt season for Gurley's backup, according to the Macon Telegraph.
The pair combined for 2,352 yards of offense and 26 touchdowns as freshmen in 2012. But the duo barely played in four games together last season before Gurley injured his ankle against LSU. Marshall tore his ACL against Tennessee the next game.
Most expect Gurley, 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, to enter the NFL Draft after what could be a monster 2014 season.
Georgia has plenty of options in the backfield, including touted A.J. Turman, a 2013 signee who redshirted last year, and the two highest-rated players in the Bulldogs' recruiting class this year in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Brendan Douglas also rushed for three touchdowns and showed well as a pass-catcher as a freshman last season.
Marshall has participated in drills on a limited basis in spring practice, according to reports. If Georgia redshirts him and Gurley goes the the NFL, Marshall would have two seasons of eligibility remaining and could take over as the lead back.
"Right now the plan is to see how far along he is, and then do what's going to be best for him," running backs coach Bryan McClendon said, according to the Macon Telegraph. "That's going to be priority No. 1. To do what's best for him. And that way, I think everybody will be able to sleep good at night."
McClendon also told the paper that he has to hold back Marshall because the running back tries to do too much and rush his return at times.
The running backs coach also hinted that he wants Gurley to be able to play through the inevitable bruises that running backs get at all levels.
"The freshest you're ever gonna feel is the start of fall camp. But outside of that it's always gonna be something," McClendon said. "I definitely think the guys that are the most successful, they're able to push through when things aren't feeling the best. I definitely think him being able to do that, that's going to (help) him continue to grow as a player."
Though another back could emerge, SEC defensive coordinators probably wouldn't complain if Georgia decided not to play both Gurley and Marshall this season. But from the Bulldogs' perspective, if they believe Marshall is capable of being a lead back himself, it makes sense not to concurrently use up his eligibility.