One of the Georgia Bulldogs’ bigger position of needs during this last recruiting cycle—despite the presence of both Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley—was another elite tailback; or, more specifically, a running back with pass-catching ability. It’s the reason why a player like Alvin Kamara (who eventually signed with Alabama) was deemed a must-have for the coaching staff; you want to have an “X-Factor” at the tailback spot, a player you can’t scheme against because he’s the quintessential dual-threat at his position: a phenomenal runner as well as a competent catcher.
While Georgia didn’t lock down Kamara, they did sign a running back in 2013—most forget about A.J. Turman in all the hoopla and disappointment surrounding the loss of Kamara—and his value to the Bulldogs might not be as easily recognizable at first, but it is certainly something worth keeping an eye on as it pertains to both Marshall and Gurley.
Now, I don’t plan to break down film on Turman—MaconDawg of DawgSports offered a fine analysis of him in November—but, I will say this: Turman has a similar running gait to that of Richard Samuel (i.e. runs high, doesn’t get the pad level down, tends to rely on his speed to run through holes, as opposed to powering through them with his legs instead), but that’s where the similarities are likely to end.
The one area where Georgia still needs to find some help is in short-yardage situations. While Gurley has been the back with the most success in getting the tough yards thus far, you don’t want to have to continue to look to him as your only option; ideally you’d like a workhorse of a player who can get out there in those situations, spelling either Gurley, Marshall, or both, while also wearing down the defensive front in the process; Turman could be that guy.
Despite his upright running style and penchant for keeping his pads a bit on the high side, he is a north-south runner who knows how to find room between the tackles. He’s got the power and the size to pick up the tough yards and could become the type of player Georgia can insert into the critical down and distance situations which require a heady runner with both the power and the strength to break through and extend drives; in the long run, that can only help the longevity and durability of both Gurley and Marshall, who already take a good bit of the beating, as well as improve the effectiveness of the running game.
If Turman can come in and do the work, he could be a deep sleeper for Georgia this season—particularly where goal line opportunities are concerned.