With standout junior Todd Gurley a candidate to leave early for next year’s NFL draft, Carson told Mansell he is ready to compete against a loaded stable of young and talented backs for the right to eventually replace Gurley in 2015.
With Todd (Gurley), I know that is going to be gone, and with Keith Marshall, he could be gone, but if he is still there, I can learn from him, those freshman are really talented. They need more than just one running back in this league. They want multiple running backs. I like the competition.
At 6’1”, 200 pounds, Carson is a big back who is physical at the point of attack, yet he also possesses breakaway speed. While those attributes are similar to Gurley’s strengths, it’s way too early to anoint Carson as the clear-cut front-runner to succeed him.
There are a few reasons why that’s the case.
For starters, in the event Gurley and fellow star junior Keith Marshall leave school early, there are plenty of options for Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to turn to.
Georgia brought in a pair of highly touted backs in its 2014 class in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. In particular, as B/R’s Barrett Sallee notes, the 5’10”, 225-pound Chubb—who rushed for 101 touchdowns and nearly 7,000 yards over his final three prep seasons—is a physical freak who compares more favorably to the 6’1”, 226-pound Gurley.
Additionally, based on Carson’s career to this point, there’s not enough evidence to suggest that he’s ready to produce at the elite level of a talent such as Gurley.
As a freshman last season at Butler (Kansas) Community College, Carson rushed for 611 yards and eight touchdowns. However, he also fumbled six times and lost four of those, according to his page on Butler's home site.
The flip side to that argument is that most coaches recruit JUCO players because of their ability to fill an immediate need.
Alabama’s Nick Saban has done it with players such as Terrence Cody and Jesse Williams in recent years. Auburn’s success with JUCO quarterback imports Cam Newton and former UGA player Nick Marshall is another example.
In Georgia’s case, the addition of Carson gives the program another quality option at a position where depth is critical in a league as physical as the SEC is.
Given Carson’s comments about embracing competition, it’s clear that he’s confident in his ability to step in and earn a spot in the backfield rotation.
However, he nor any of the current backs on UGA’s roster can be mentioned in the same breath as Gurley until they can mirror his exploits on the field in the fall.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.