ATHENS - Tim Worley now lives in Huntsville, Ala., but watches the Georgia football team any chance he gets. His focus would naturally be on the tailbacks, and he has even more reason to focus on Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
Worley came to Georgia in 1985 after growing up in Lumberton, N.C. North Carolina. Gurley and Marshall also came from North Carolina, forming the trio into a small community within the pantheon of successful Georgia tailbacks. (Herschel Walker, Robert Edwards and Garrison Hearst were in-state recruits. Knowshon Moreno was from New Jersey, Terrell Davis out of California.)
Worley, who will serve as Georgia's legend at Saturday's SEC championship, got a chance to meet Gurley and Marshall earlier this season. Both were highly-recruited tailbacks, but Gurley has emerged as a true star, and Worley thinks Gurley is already among the best in Georgia history.
In fact, Worley puts him "right there" with Walker.
“I haven’t seen one like him in awhile,” Worley said of Gurley. “He’s on another level. Every single time he touches the ball he is a threat. And he’s powerful, he’s big, he will hurt you, and he understands the game. And he plays like he’s been in the league forever. He’s up there. I put him right there with Herschel. Not quite as fast, but I put him right there with Herschel Walker.”
Better than you, Worley was asked?
“He’s right there with me,” he said, laughing. “As far as just the strength and the pounding and the physicality, he’s right there. That’s the traditional Georgia back.”
Gurley remembered meeting Worley before this season.
“He was a real cool guy," Gurley said. "He just loved what me and Keith were doing, as far as representing the state of North Carolina. He showed a lot of love, and just told us to keep doing what we were doing.”
Gurley was born in Baltimore, moved to Rocky Mount, N.C., when he was seven. Then he moved to Tarboro in the sixth grade, staying there through high school.
“I really didn’t know my Georgia history," Gurley said. "And coach Richt definitely did a good job as far as teaching guys a little about Georgia history. Especially as far as bringing in honorary captains, and old players. That’s a good thing, because when I come back, I’m going to want guys to know a little something about me.”
Gurley probably won't end up close to Walker's career stats at Georgia, assuming he turns pro after his junior season, just as Walker did. Through two years, and with a bowl game still to go, Gurley has 2,288 career rushing yards. Walker finished with 5,259 in three seasons.
But second place is in reach for Gurley: Hearst had 3,232 from 1990-92.
Worley finished with 2,038, so his career mark was topped by Gurley in the Kentucky game.
Gurley is also on track to finish second in Georgia history in rushing touchdowns: He has 27 right now, which is only nine behind second-place Lars Tate. Walker had 49.
As far as single-season production, Gurley is currently tied for third for the most rushing touchdowns in a season, with 17 last year. The man who he's tied with? Worley, who had 17 in 1988.