Rams RB Todd Gurley showed off his superstar potential this year.
Maybe the breakout player in the NFL this season was Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. After a sophomore slump, Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns while catching 64 passes for 788 yards and six more scores. He made fantasy owners very happy, and helped the Rams win 11 games and make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
We caught up with the 23-year-old former Georgia star to discuss the year he had, what he's hoping to do next year, as well as his hopes for his alma mater. We also discussed much, much more.
The Spun: So, first of all, congratulations on a huge season. I see you've picked up some hardware from DraftKings. What awards did you win?
TG: I won four awards--Mr. Consistency, Most Improved, Best Single-Game Performance and MVP. DraftKings is holding their first annual Super Bowl Showdown this year too. You can pick players from each team: four on offense, two on defense. I'm excited to be partnered with DraftKings and to have those awards.
The Spun: When did you find out about the awards? Is this something they have done before?
TG: No, this is the first year for them giving out awards. In the past they just did it on social media. I think they gave Best Duo to Le'Veon (Bell) and AB (Antonio Brown). They gave Best Defense to Jacksonville. It's pretty cool. I got a big plaque and everything.
The Spun: Where are you going to put that plaque?
TG: It's gonna go in my game room, with my jerseys and stuff like that.
The Spun: Obviously every NFL player knows about fantasy. Is it something you've thought about in the past or do you only think about it when people tweet you 'Nice game' each week?
TG: It's more for that, but it's a big thing out here in the world. It makes people fans, so for me to be able to go out there and ball out on the field, and for fans to meet you in person and thank you for the fantasy points or championship, it's always a good feeling for that.
The Spun: Jumping over to college football now. As a Georgia alum, obviously this had to be a fun season for you? What was that like for you to follow them?
TG: Oh man, there was a lot of trash talking in the locker room. I had the bragging rights. I didn't have the final bragging rights, but it was a good year for those guys. I was definitely one of their biggest fans. It's like you're more into Georgia football when you're an alumni. I'd text those guys and tell him how proud I was of them, being able to make it to a national championship and accomplish great things.
The Spun: Who are the guys you texted with during the season?
TG: The guys I played with, you know. [Nick] Chubb, Dominick Sanders, Sony [Michel, [Dalvin] Bellamy. Guys I was there with. I'm definitely proud and happy for those guys.
The Spun: You played in the backfield with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. What have you seen from those guys and what do you think is in store for them at the next level?
TG: They'll be fine. For the most part, it's all about getting in the right system. Hopefully they get drafted to that right team and go out there and keep doing what they've been doing their whole lives.
The Spun: That leads us right into another question. You had a huge season this year after having a "down" year in 2016. What happened? Did it all just click for you? Was it the system? Anything specifically you did?
TG: Like you said, the league is more about execution and things just clicking at the right time. We had Coach McVay come in and install his offense and we just kinda followed his lead. We were able to be football players like how we got drafted, just go out there and play ball and win games.
The Spun: Going back to the SEC. You mentioned having bragging rights. We know how big the rivalries are and how fierce the trash talk is between fans in the SEC. Is it like that between former players too?
TG: We're talking trash all day, every day. Especially if your team sucks (laughing). That's why I said, I'm texting those [Georgia] guys saying, 'Hey, I need y'all to win for bragging rights.' They'll see when they get to the league. If your team doesn't win, you've got 54 other guys [in the locker room] talking trash.
The Spun: What do you think of Georgia's future? Obviously, there's a lot of hype going into this offseason considering what hey did in Year Two under Kirby Smart. How would you assess things?
TG: For a head coach to come in and do that within the first two years says a lot. There's always going to be players in Georgia. You've just got to keep them in there. You know we're going to get those running backs too. That's what we do. Just keep getting these recruits and just keep being Georgia and just let Coach Smart do his thing.
The Spun: You mentioned getting running backs. One thing Georgia has been able to do lately is get quarterbacks. First Jacob Eason, then Jake Fromm and now Justin Fields.
TG: It's crazy. There wll be some great competition.
The Spun: What did you think watching what happened with Eason this year? He came in as the starter after a good freshman season, gets hurt, now Fromm is the guy. Eason left too. What was it like seeing that play out?
TG: It's funny because Eason comes in and he takes over a spot, and then the next year Fromm takes his spot. It's kind of ironic. They're definitely great quarterbacks. Eason is a great quarterback, a great person throughout the whole situation of getting benched and not being the starter.
The Spun: What about the young running backs?
TG: Those running backs, they're good. They've got [D'Andre] Swift, he's up next. The next Heisman. You've got [Elijah] Holyfield and Brian Herrien. There's a lot of good running backs there. And we've got my boy Zeus [five-star Zamir White] from North Carolina coming in. He's going to come off that ACL (injury) killin' it.
The Spun: Wait,you're saying D'Andre Swift will win the Heisman in 2018? As a sophomore?
TG: Oh yea. I’m already counting it. Preseason Heisman vote right now.
The Spun: What have you seen from him that makes you so confident? Obviously he flashed a lot this year.
TG: Seeing him in high school and seeing what he did with those other two backs, it’s crazy. I can only imagine what he’ll be able to do when he’s the feature back.
The Spun: Speaking of Georgia, what about your own choice with Georgia? You visited Clemson, Georgia and NC State. What was it about Georgia that sold you finally?
TG: I had a good relationship with coach [Mark] Richt and coach [T.A.] McClendon, my running backs coach. I just trusted in those guys. I just knew Georgia had the potential and was the place for me. I kinda wanted to be in the SEC honestly.
The Spun: Is there anybody you would love to have played for in college? Or a college coach you'd have loved to play for not named Kirby Smart or Mark Richt?
TG: I kinda grew up a semi-LSU fan. I just kind of wanted that offer. I at least just wanted the offer, even if I wasn’t going to go there.
The Spun: Any Super Bowl prediction?
TG: Not yet, I'm gonna have to do it.
The Spun: Well, if you don't have a prediction, do you have an analysis of what to expect from these teams? You obviously played Philadelphia this season and faced New England in 2016, albeit with a different roster.
TG: You have Philly, they've been the hot team all year. They've been ballin' out. The Patriots, they're the most consistent team of the last decade. Philly has been the most consistent team this year. Even with their quarterback going down, it shows you why they're one of the best teams in the NFl. For them to still be in the Super Bowl without their quarterback and their starting left tackle, they definitely have good talent.
New England, they're not going to beat themselves. That's just not what they do. When everybody else is slowing down in the game, they're figuring you out and catching up. Next thing you know, they come back and win.
The Spun: Last question: what's the next step for you and the Rams this offseason? Obviously you guys blew up and became one of the best teams in the league this year. What is the next step?
TG: Just keep grinding, keep picking away. Just come back in the offseason with a good attitude and let everything else handle itself. Just keep going to work every day and getting better every day.