Herschel Walker’s ‘amazed’ by Georgia’s Nick Chubb

Herschel Walker stopped short of declaring Nick Chubb a better Georgia tailback than he was, but the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner lavished praise on the Bulldogs’ sophomore sensation. He called Chubb “amazing” for what he has been able to accomplish running in a more athletically competitive era of the college game.

“When I played, they didn’t have guys 6-5, 300 pounds that can run a 4.5 (second 40-yard dash),” Walker said during the Bulldogs’ practice Thursday. “You’ve got a bunch of them out there that can do that now. So he’s playing in a totally different era. He can make his own way right now. The guy is an incredible, incredible football player.”

Chubb drew comparisons to Walker when he broke out as Georgia’s starting tailback about halfway into his freshman season last year. Chubb took over for Todd Gurley in the fifth game when Gurley was suspended for breaking NCAA rules. and started the next eight games. He finished with 1,547 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. That’s second in freshman annals only to Walker’s 1,616 yards and 20 TDs in 1980.

Walker is Georgia’s all-time leading rusher with 5,259 yards, which he compiled in only three seasons. That does not include his bowl-game totals, which weren’t included in season stats then.

“That was a long, long time ago,” Walker said with a chuckle. “The ball is a little bit heavier now. The Patriots are the only ones who think it’s not that heavy.”

But Walker said that Chubb is definitely a throwback to his day, when backs routinely carried the ball 25 to 30 times a game. As a player at Georgia, Walker famously answered a question about whether he grew tired carrying so many times with, “The ball ain’t heavy.”

“When you see football today, you see a choir playing running back,” Walker said. “You see about 10 guys running in and out of the game. (Chubb) carried the ball 30-something times, and that is absolutely amazing. That shows you the worth that he is, and I’m amazed.”

Walker spent all day Thursday at the Butts-Mehre football complex as one of the featured guests for UGA’s annual spring football coaches clinic. This year’s event is a particularly star-studded affair as Walker’s coach, Vince Dooley, Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach Gus Bradley and 2014 NFL Man of the Year Thomas Davis were among this year’s keynote speakers.

High school coaches from across the state also are eager to hear from new UGA offensive coordinator Brian Schotteneimer and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. And the best of the high school ranks are also conducting seminars, including Colquitt County’s Rush Propst, Buford’s Jess Simpson and Calhoun’s Hal Lamb.

But having Walker hang around all day is unusual, as his primary residence remains in Texas and his business pursuits and niche as a motivational speaker to military personnel at bases all over the United States and abroad keeps him on a rigorous travel schedule. He said he took some time early Thursday afternoon to meet with Chubb and the other Georgia tailbacks, including Brendan Douglas, Keith Marshall and Sony Michel.

“Most of these guys, I could be their father,” Walker said. “I told them, ‘You don’t want to listen to ‘Herschel Walker this, Herschel Walker that, because you’re playing in a different time.’ One thing that’s great about this team here as a whole, Georgia has got a heckuva lot of good running backs.”

As for whether he could be as effective in today’s game as he was in the early ’80s, Walker shrugged.

“Who knows,” he said. “People are always comparing us and it’s great to talk about it. But I think it’s unfair to certain players because it’s a totally different time. Here, we throw the ball a little bit more now than we did when I played. When I played we threw the ball two times, to the referee when the game started and we threw it off the field when the game was over.”

Etc.: Three of Georgia's primary weapons for the coming season have been sidelined by injuries. Coach Mark Richt confirmed that Michel will miss the remainder of the spring with what he called a "non-op" shoulder injury. He wasn't sure if it was the same shoulder that sidelined Michel for five games last season, but indicated Michel will be cleared shortly after spring practice concludes. … Also receivers Charlie Hegedus and Shakenneth Williams have been sidelined indefinitely with hamstring injuries.