A year ago, Todd Gurley was walking with a limp after an ACL tear threatened his NFL dream. On Saturday, the NFL announced Gurley completed one of the best comeback stories of the season, as the Los Angeles Rams running back was named the 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Former Rams running back Eric Dickerson offered his congratulations:
Eric Dickerson @EricDickerson
Congratulation to @TG3II on winning offensive ROY at tonight's #NFLHonors Much deserved! @NFL @nflnetwork #LARams2016-2-7 01:16:21
The Georgia product rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns, adding 21 receptions and 188 yards in 13 games. After missing the first two games while recovering from surgery, he made an inauspicious debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers before busting out in a big way. He rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his next four contests, emerging as one of football's best young playmakers.
“I didn’t expect to do this well, but at the end of the day, it didn’t really surprise me," Gurley said, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. "I put in the hard work and my teammates helped me come back and do a great a job.”
While he didn't replicate that level of success the rest of the way—Gurley had only one 100-yard game after Week 8—he remained an effective weapon. Pro Football Focus ranked him fourth among running backs in elusiveness rating and first in breakaway percentage. Only Doug Martin had more rushes of 20-plus yards.
A turf toe injury ultimately cut his season down a game early, but there wasn't much question about who would come away with Rookie of the Year honors. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson each had some level of claim to the award, but none was as consistently effective as Gurley.
Making things even scarier for NFL defenses is that Gurley was probably never at 100 percent of his full capabilities. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he was still recovering in November, and the turf toe problem only compounded things.
If he comes back at 100 percent, Gurley's rookie season may only serve as a prelude to an even bigger second season.