Herschel Walker, the gold standard for running backs from the University of Georgia, has weighed in on the latest Bulldogs star, Todd Gurley. And the NFL's ninth-ranked career all-purpose yardage leader sees an easy transition to the NFL ahead for the Heisman Trophy candidate.
"Todd is a tough, tough ballplayer," Walker said, according to dawgs247.com. "He's a very, very good ballplayer. The guy has got so much talent, and when you watch him play, you know that he can go to the next level with no problem."
Gurley has a tough style between the tackles, plowing through more tacklers than he avoids with his agility. Top SEC running backs have more than their share of NFL success stories, but it doesn't apply across the board.
Recent former SEC running backs struggling in the NFL include Trent Richardson, who was traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts after just 17 career games after being made the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, and former Saints first-round pick Mark Ingram, both of Alabama. Another, former Florida star Chris Rainey, was just waived by the Colts. Rainey was a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Walker's comments aren't at all unlike those of UGA coach Mark Richt on the same subject. Richt said at SEC Media Days that the Bulldogs offensive scheme is just as complex as what Gurley will encounter in the NFL, making his readiness for the pro level much stronger.
Gurley has averaged 6.1 yards per carry over two years at Georgia, and should reach 3,000 career yards with ease if healthy this season. He's also the leading half of the league's best rushing tandem, along with backup Keith Marshall. Gurley, Mike Davis of South Carolina and Alabama's T.J. Yeldon -- all underclassmen but draft-eligible for 2015 if they forego their senior years -- are considered the league's top three returning rushers for 2014.
Walker fell short of holding himself and Gurley in a comparative light.
"When I came to Georgia they were looking for a running back that was set up for that running system. And when I was there we ran the ball a lot, whereas the game now has switched so much to a passing game. So I think it's very unfair to compare athletes, because the system players are in makes a big, big difference," Walker said.
Indeed, Walker endured the punishment of 659 carries over his first two years at Georgia, with Gurley handling just 387 in the same career window.