Gurley survives SEC media days

semerson@macon.comJuly 17, 2014 

SEC Media Days Football

Georgia tailback Todd Gurley speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)



Todd Gurley sat down, then looked around at the horde of media -- men and women holding cameras, tape recorders and notepads.

He didn’t say anything. Georgia’s star tailback, known for his dislike of interviews, just let it begin.

“Y’all know I’m not a big fan of it,” Gurley said an hour earlier with a smile. “But it comes with it, so you’ve gotta deal with it.”

And so the biggest star at SEC media days dealt with it Thursday. By all accounts he handled his appearance flawlessly. He wasn’t the best quote -- that distinction belonged to teammate Chris Conley -- but Gurley was cooperative, speaking to radio, TV, web and print reporters for more than four hours.

“He knows what to do,” Conley said. “You know sometimes he gets tired. He’ll be all right. I expect him to give great answers because he’s gonna have a great year.”

Potentially a Heisman year, which is a big reason Georgia took him to the event.

Gurley had spectacular seasons his first two years with the Bulldogs, racking up 2,374 yards and 27 touchdowns, despite missing the better part of four games last year.

His star has risen in college football, without Gurley doing any self-promotion. He is known around the team as a good teammate and a good citizen. But he has been known around the media as a difficult interview, which Gurley attributed Thursday to just wanting to go home after practice and games.

“I talk a lot -- but just not to you guys,” Gurley said, laughing.

Head coach Mark Richt then walked by and shouted kiddingly, “Todd loves this stuff.”

Gurley didn’t appear to love it Thursday, but he was much looser. Georgia’s three player representatives (Ramik Wilson was the other) decided to wear bowties, and Gurley had a multi-colored one.

“How do y’all like it?” Gurley asked reporters. “Pretty cool?”

Georgia officials first broached the idea of taking Gurley to this event in January, and Gurley said he agreed, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Former teammate Garrison Smith, who was one of Georgia’s representatives last year in Hoover, texted Gurley on Thursday to say congratulations and wish him luck.

There’s something else at work too. While Georgia has no plans to do a Heisman campaign for Gurley, the program also knows he could very well be a candidate, and that the media votes on it.

Gurley knows that, too.

“It’s like a popularity contest with the Heisman,” Gurley said. “If you have your little story, you’re gonna get people around the world just to like you. I guess that comes with it, and that definitely helps you a lot.”

He was asked what his “Heisman story” would be.

“Typical story,” Gurley said. “A young kid, single mother, my siblings, come from the bottom. Now I’m at the University of Georgia. So there’s nothing else to be said.”

There was also some talk of football. Gurley said he has been watching what he eats, sleeping better and training “a lot” harder.

“Just preparing myself and being smarter about a lot of things,” Gurley said.

He was also asked whether this will be his final year. He didn’t take the bait, although that’s the natural assumption.

“I don’t know, I have to tell you after the season,” he said, smiling.

Gurley smiled a lot Thursday. Yes, he survived, and he even had some fun.

“It’s something I couldn’t pass up on,” he said. “I’d be a fool not to want to come here.”

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