University of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley II (3) is congratulated by assistant coaches and tight end Arthur Lynch following Gurley's first down run late in the fourth quarter during their win over the University of South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., September 7, 2013. After their goal line stand, Georgia was able to kill the clock and not give South Carolina another chance to score. No. 11 Georgia defeated No. 6 South Carolina 41-30. Gurley had 30 carries for 134 yards 1 touchdown and 1 touchdown receiving.
ATHENS – Call him Todd Gurley II, as in “The Second.” But don’t call him junior and, by all means, don’t refer to him as “Gurshall.”
If you’re like a lot of Georgia fans, you’ve probably noticed that Gurley is sporting the roman numeral II on the back of his jersey this season. He’s named after his father, Todd Gerome Gurley, who lives in Baltimore.
It’s actually something he wanted on his jersey last season but was unable to get. He said UGA director of equipment John Meshad turned down his request.
“I’m just trying to get it up there and Meshad, was like, ‘man, if I do it for you I’ve got to do it for the whole team because we’ve got a whole team of juniors and seconds,” Gurley said with a laugh.
But Gurley, who had 1,745 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman, went back to Meshad with his request before this season. And it was granted this time.
“I felt like I deserved it after last year and he was like, ‘all right, I’ve got you,’” Gurley said. “So you’ve got to earn it."
Meshad confirmed that account.
"It’s like I told him last year, ‘do you know how many people are the second? Come on, Todd. That’s why they use junior,'" Meshad said with a chuckle. "That was a big joke last year. But I told him if he earned it we’d do it this year. Sure enough, he reminded me about a week before picture day, and I’m a man of my word.”
Gurley is definitely making a name for himself. His 143 yards per game rushing average currently ranks seventh in the nation and his came against a pair of top-10 teams. Gurley had 132 yards on 30 carries in this past Saturday’s 41-30 win over No. 6 South Carolina and added an eight-yard TD catch, the first of his career.
Getting more involved in the passing game was a goal Gurley set for himself this season. He had 16 catches for 117 yards last season.
“I really didn’t sit down in the offseason and say, ‘I want to try to get this and do that,’" Gurley said. "But one of my main things was just get more plays in the passing game and work on playing without the ball. That was about all.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has remarked that Gurley’s pass-blocking has improved immensely since last season. He stood up South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on one play that resulted in an Aaron Murray completion.
Gurley said he’s generally feeling better about all facets of his game this season.
“I’m not a freshman anymore,” he said. “I’m a sophomore. Basically I feel more comfortable than I did last year for the first two games. That’s about it.”
Gurley revealed that he didn’t practice hardly at all last week due to the pulled thigh muscle that he suffered on a 75-yard touchdown run in the opener against Clemson. And he remains somewhat banged up coming out of Saturday’s contest.
So Georgia’s bye week is coming at a particularly good time for him. The Bulldogs are off this Saturday, then play host to North Texas on Sept. 21 (12:21 p.m., SEC-TV).
As for his namesake, Gurley said he has a good reason for going by Gurley II rather than junior.
"Being the second, I can (one day) name my son the third," he said.
Said Meshad: "I think it also kind of had to do with him getting away from that 'Gurshall' thing. The whole time he has been adamant about wanting to represent his dad. He wanted to honor his father is what he told me.”