Todd Gurley's character is a plus, Mark Richt says

Georgia tailback Todd Gurley returns to the field Saturday after a four-game suspension for accepting illegal benefits, and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt thinks the situation could help Gurley with NFL teams.

Richt isn't talking about the lack of wear and tear on Gurley's legs the past month; instead, he thinks the negative experience can be turned into a positive by Gurley.

"I still think if I'm an NFL team and I'm looking at Gurley, I'm going to say, you know what, the guy might have done this thing -- which I don't know how much they care that he got some money to sign some autographs or not -- but I think they care about his character and they care about what kind of person he is," Richt said during his weekly Tuesday news conference. "As far as just, you know, if you make a mistake, you know, 'fess up to it. And he did, and I'm proud of him."

Richt also said, "I'm proud of the guy (for) being truthful."

Gurley is scheduled to start Saturday against Auburn in a game important for Georgia's SEC East title hopes.

"I don't plan on him missing a beat," quarterback Hutson Mason told the Athens Banner-Herald. "He looks just as fresh and healthy as he's ever looked."

If Gurley is indeed fresh and healthy, he could have a big day against a mediocre Auburn defense. Mississippi, Mississippi State and Texas A&M all ran effectively against the Tigers in the past month.

Gurley, a junior, is considered the best draft-eligible running back in the nation.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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