2012 Intro: Todd Gurley

TARBORO, N.C. --- Five years ago, North Carolina signed a multi-dimensional athlete from Tarboro High School in Shaun Draughn. The Tar Heels coaching staff has its eyes on a similar prospect in the 2012 class – Todd Gurley.

"Shaun had great vision and Shaun was built a little bit lower," Tarboro head coach Jeff Craddock said. "Shaun was maybe a little bit more shiftier in the open-field – he had more of the spins, more of the cuts – but I think his frame enabled him to do that.

"Todd is a little taller, he's a little more athletic, [and] he's a little faster in the open-field. He's not quite as shifty as Shaun was, but he can make you miss. The power is very similar. I think Todd may be a little stronger than Shaun was in high school."

Like Draughn, Gurley, a 6-foot, 190-pounder, is featured in every phase of Tarboro's football team.

"He doesn't come off the field much," Craddock said. "He's a headhunter on our kickoff team – makes most of our tackles; he returns punts; he returns kickoffs; he started at outside linebacker [and then] we moved him to safety; he punted some; and of course he's the halfback for us."

While helping Tarboro to an undefeated season and a NCHSAA 2A State Title, Gurley scored 30 all-purpose touchdowns (26 rushing, one passing, one receiving, and two kickoff returns) and averaged over 10 yards-a-carry (1,472 yards).

Despite changing positions during the season, Gurley totaled 79 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble on defense.

"He runs the ball so hard and he takes so much of a pounding – he doesn't get tackled the first time somebody hits him – I was getting concerned," Craddock said. "So I moved him to safety [from linebacker], because it's a less physical position. Plus, if somebody breaks a big run, he's going to chase them down."

As a kick returner, Gurley averaged 48.3 yards on six returns.

Gurley's accomplishments have attracted verbal scholarship offers from Duke, East Carolina, UNC, and NC State and significant interest from Clemson.

Like Draughn when he was being recruited, schools are unsure where Gurley fits position wise on the collegiate level.

"[College coaches] ask me what position that I want to play," Gurley said. "I tell them running back. I like to be able to help the team out on offense and to be physical."

"If I'm recruiting [Gurley] to play football, I'm recruiting him to put the ball in his hands, because that young man can do some special, special things when he's running the football," Craddock said. "He does special things all over the place, but I haven't quite seen the blending of his size and speed and natural instinct running the football like I've seen him be able to do."

Gurley, who doesn't plan on making a verbal commitment any time soon, says he doesn't "really" have a favorite school, but one school has begun to slightly emerge.

"[Duke] was the first school that I've been in contact with and felt like it was the place to be," Gurley said. "But, I'm still trying to get a feel for things."

In getting a feel for UNC, Gurley plans on speaking in-depth with Draughn. The two have had some communication recently.

"I know (UNC) has good tradition and has a good football program," Gurley said.

Additionally, Gurley admits that he has thought about continuing the Tarboro running back pipeline to UNC – as has Craddock.

"Wherever these guys want to go to school, I don't influence them one way or another," Craddock said. "If [Gurley] decides that Carolina would be a great fit for him, that would be awesome. Kelvin Bryant has been there, now Shaun Draughn has been there, and then Todd Gurley would go there – that would be tremendous. But if he feels Carolina is not the fit for him, I'll support him."

Gurley will make his first recruiting trip of the spring on Wednesday night when he attends the UNC-Duke basketball game in Durham. He also plans on attending the Tar Heels' Junior Day on Feb. 19 and is working on scheduling trips to Clemson and NC State.

Video provided by Jason Pughe of AthleteVault.com.

Inside Carolina Top Stories