2013 Offensive Preview: Running backs

Dawg Post's Daniel Kramer will preview a Georgia position group each Thursday this spring. We continue with the Bulldog running backs.

Georgia knew it hit the jackpot during last year's recruiting campaign when it signed North Carolina natives Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. But perhaps coach Mark Richt and company didn't know just how quick the tandem would make an impact. Gurley and Marshall – or "Gurshall" as teammates and fans have taken to call the pair – each averaged over six yards per carry and combined to score 25 touchdowns. Gurley also finished second in the SEC in rushing (1,385 yards), ousting national champion Eddie Lacy (1,322) but falling just 25 yards short of Heisman winner Johnny Manziel (1,410).

The Gurshall duo will be back again this fall – and pending a debacle, again in 2014 – but stiffer competition could hinder their unprecedented results as freshmen a year ago. Still, expect the pair to each have a solid season, as Richt will use them heavily in what could be the SEC's most explosive offense.

In an early look at the rest of the SEC tailback tandems, Georgia could arguably have the best. There are a few No. 1 guys that could have breakout years, such as Alabama's T.J. Yeldon, Auburn's Tre Mason, Mississippi State's LaDarius Perkins and Missouri's Kendial Lawrence. But we won't know who will stand out until the season starts because of all the talent that went pro, including Alabama's Lacy, Florida's Mike Gillislee, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore and Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy.

In terms of tandems, though, only Alabama (Kenyan Drake and Yeldon) and Texas A&M (Manziel and Ben Malena) can truly rival the Bulldogs – at least at an early look. But, again, time will tell which backs will step up and rise to the top of the SEC.

But back to the Georgia contingent…

Richt narrowly missed signing the state's top running back, Alvin Kamara, but managed to dip into Florida to snag the 6-foot, 200 pound A.J. Turman, who will fit right in with the current group. Turman has the characteristics of a prototypical Georgia back – size, speed, strength, power – and explodes through the line of scrimmage, comparable to the way Gurley does.

And though Turman may not have Marshall's track speed, he still has good cutback ability and can break tackles to extend plays. He will only improve after a year under the tutelage of Gurley, Marshall and running backs coach Bryan McClendon. It'd be shocking to see him redshirt, though, especially after Ken Malcome's transfer to Southern Illinois. Georgia will feel more comfortable with three solid backs in case one goes down during the rigors of the SEC season.

Now let's shift to fullbacks…

The Bulldogs quietly got a great season out of walk-on Merritt Hall before he went down with an ankle injury against Florida and then again versus Georgia Southern. But Georgia had a steady string of backups in Richard Samuel and Quayvon Hicks. And though Samuel has since graduated, the Bulldogs will return almost everyone else at the position, including Hall, Hicks, Corey Cambell, Taylor Maxey, Alexander Ogletree and Chris Young.

Also note that Georgia didn't run their fullbacks too often last year. The group combined for 23 rushes for 89 yards and only one touchdown. But Richt isn't known for utilizing fullbacks in that manner. Look for the same faces and services from the group this fall.

Stayed tuned each Thursday for Daniel Kramer's breakdown of the 2013 Georgia offense. Next week we look at the receiving core, which was one of the most resilient last year after battling a multitude of injuries.

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