Georgia could know the fate of star running back Todd Gurley's status sooner than expected.
Speaking to reporters after practice, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt hinted that a decision on Gurley could come Friday, in time for him to make the trip to Arkansas this week.
"If we know he's not gonna play, then he won't travel," Richt said, according to the Macon Telegraph. "I don't know if that answers your question. But if we know he's able to play he will travel. If he's not able, he won't. He has been practicing, getting some reps.
"We'll definitely know in plenty of time before we get on the plane."
A spokesperson added that Richt's comments are not an indication that a final ruling on the matter will come down Friday.
The school announced last week that Gurley was being suspended based on an investigation into whether he had broken NCAA rules in relation to signed memorabilia. He did not travel with the team for its win over Missouri but has been practicing with the Bulldogs this week in anticipation that he would return to action at some point this season.
A 6-foot-1, 226-pound junior, Gurley is widely considered to be the best running back in college football and, before his suspension, the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Multiple reports said Gurley was a candidate to miss several games, if not the rest of the season, based on some evidence that he may have signed items in exchange for money against NCAA amateurism rules. He still leads the team in rushing with 773 yards and has nine total touchdowns this season.
"You prepare like he won't be there," Richt said. "And if he is, it's a bonus."
Further complicating the absence of Gurley is the fact that Georgia's depth at the running back position is still in question. Backups Keith Marshall and Sony Michel are expected to again miss this week's game against the Razorbacks, and the team moved safety J.J. Green to tailback in order to add some depth behind starter Nick Chubb, a true freshman.
While a decision on Gurley's status could prove to be an unexpected bonus for the Bulldogs this weekend, it is probably not what some NFL executives were hoping for. One NFC scout in particular told CFB 24/7 that Gurley's play so far this season is enough for him to be labeled the top tailback in the 2015 NFL Draft and a legitimate candidate to go in the first round. The lack of late-season mileage on his body would even further cement his status atop many draft boards and so far is widely viewed as a positive.