Georgia running back Keith Marshall, the latter half (along with Todd Gurley) of the Bulldogs' famous "Gurshall" rushing tandem, is no guarantee to see the field for his junior season after tearing his ACL against Tennessee on Oct. 5 last year.
Per Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo floated the idea of Marshall taking a redshirt in December of last year, and now, despite Marshall's limited but encouraging involvement in spring drills, the coaching staff is still considering that recourse.
"Right now the plan is to see how far along he is, and then do what's going to be best for him," said running backs coach Bryan McClendon. "That's going to be priority No. 1. To do what's best for him. And that way, I think everybody will be able to sleep good at night."
Marshall was a 5-star recruit and the No. 12 overall player on the 247Sports composite a couple of years ago, ranking ahead of even Gurley, who is now considered the better college player. In their true freshman seasons, Marshall saw 117 carries to Gurley's 222, but he averaged 6.49 yards per attempt (slightly more than Gurley's 6.24) and finished with 759 yards and eight touchdowns.
Redshirting Marshall this year would thin the options behind Gurley, but it wouldn't be the worst idea if Marshall isn't fit to play. It would also stagger their eligibility if Gurley, who is sure to be sought by the NFL after this season, declares early and leaves before 2015.
Even after moving J.J. Green to defensive back this offseason, UGA still has Brendan Douglas—who showed some flashes when forced into action as a freshman last season—around to serve as a competent backup to Gurley. That might not even be necessary, however, as the Bulldogs also welcomes a pair of blue-chip freshman running backs in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb this fall.
A healthy Marshall makes this team better, and Georgia would do well to keep him eligible if he's healthy enough to play. Especially with the league-wide questions at quarterback, there is a void atop the SEC that the Bulldogs aren't crazy to think they can fill. They should put their best team on the field.
But only if that best team is healthy.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT