Posted: 9:53 pm Saturday, November 18th, 2017
By Jay Black
ATHENS – It’s a picture that, if anyone actually sells it, will make a killing.
The four seniors who stayed, with the postgame hoopla of a 42-13 blowout swirling around them, pulled over to have someone capture the moment.
No one would have blamed Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for taking the NFL’s money. Running backs live short lives. College running back is a pretty tough way to earn a scholarship.
Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy had to consider if another uncertain season was the best move. Because guys who hit NFL quarterbacks have nice houses too.
This was one of the moments they thought was more valuable than turning pro.
Those four players standing together for a photograph that will probably be on their walls forever. They don’t have senior days in the League.
Tonight was the proper send off for the Class of 2017 that very much deserves it.
“What a great honor it is for these guys to go out on top,” said coach Kirby Smart. “To do something no Georgia team has done before. Win the SEC East and go undefeated in the East.”
It hardly seems like it was four years ago when this class walked into Sanford Stadium for the first time. We were more focused on guys like Gurley, Mason, Wilson and Herrera.
But it was that night we saw a few glimpses. There was Aaron Davis, playing as a walk-on because, well there wasn’t many options. He grabbed an interception in his first game against Clemson. He had another interception in his last game.
Michel was the best running back in his class. He was the speedster from Florida with the cool name. The backfield was loaded then. But Michel was actually the Dawgs second leading receiver that night. This night, he scored three times.
And of course, Chubb.
Now Nick Chubb is a soon-to-be Georgia legend (or maybe he already is, but there’s games to go).
“He’s won the hearts over of a fan base that will never leave,” said Smart. “What he’s given to this place through injury and toughness, it’s just tremendous.”
It cannot be overstated what Chubb has accomplished here. There is only one back that’s had more yards and more touchdowns than this kid from Cedartown. He’s the clear second best to Herschel Walker and that’s about all anybody can be.
“Man you hope that you have many more as good as (Chubb),” said Smart. “But you know these guys don’t come around very often.”
With the talent in this backfield, Chubb hasn’t been the workhorse that he had to be when Todd Gurley got busted four years ago. Remember his first starter? 38 carries. That’s still his career high. A week later it was 30 more against Arkansas.
Whatever has been needed, Chubb has delivered. With no flash. No style. Just stud.
Yeah, Nick probably could be a Heisman contender but that’s not what’s best for this team. And frankly Chubb running the ball for free 30 times a night is not what’s best for him either.
So instead he and his buddy Sony split the load (with another freshman chipping in) and everybody is a star.
“They complement each other so well and they get along so well,” said Smart. “It will be a long time before you coach a pair like that again.”
I don’t think I’ve ever rooted harder for a player on any team than I have for Nick Chubb.
I thought his career was over that afternoon in Knoxville three years ago. It was bad. Last year, I thought the old Chubb was never coming back. Knee injuries are no joke.
But there’s never been any complaining. Any showboating. Anything that would take attention away from everyone in Red and Black.
This year, though, Chubb is back and just in time. Tonight was his best performance of the season (151 rushing yards) and two more TDs.
Despite the reduced workload, Chubb is over 1,000 yards for the year. The only season he didn’t do, his knee nearly blew up. There’s only one other UGA back that can say that and he goes by one name.
Man am I going to miss watching No. 27 in red.
A lot has happened in this football program since that muggy September night against Clemson four years ago. A couple of head coaches, a bunch of coordinators, some bad losses and lots of doubt.
Tonight, there is little doubt that this Georgia team is very, very good and can do some special things.
If those special things do happen, it’s hard to imagine a group of 21 and 22-year-olds who deserve it more.
Especially the running back.