Georgia's A.J. Turman hoping to be factor at tailback

Georgia's A.J. Turman hoping to be factor at tailback

April 15th, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Black team players celebrate a touchdown against the Red team with running back A.J. Turman during Georgia's spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Athens, Ga.

Photo by AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, AJ Reynolds

Last Saturday's G-Day performance by Georgia redshirt sophomore tailback A.J. Turman can be viewed a couple of ways.

The 6-foot, 212-pounder from Orlando rushed 26 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns for the second-team offense against the second-team defense and led the Black to a 24-17 victory. Yet take away his 52-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, and Turman had 25 carries for 54 yards, or essentially 2 yards a carry.

However it's framed, Turman at long last has been witnessed by Bulldogs backers after an injury-plagued start to his college career.

"It felt great to be out there playing again in front of fans," a beaming Turman said after G-Day. "It felt like I was at home. I'm 100 percent healthy right now, and I want to train really hard this summer."

The Bulldogs practiced for the first time since G-Day on Tuesday afternoon, working out for two hours in helmets and shorts. It was the 14th practice of the spring, with the Bulldogs set to conclude Thursday.

"We got in a lot of routine reps, and we're still putting them through a lot of situations to help us get better," coach Mark Richt said. "We worked on some late-game plays today as well."

Turman's 26 carries Saturday were more than every other Georgia rusher had combined, with sophomore star Nick Chubb getting just three carries yet amassing 34 yards and an impressive touchdown from 17 yards out. The busy afternoon for Turman was the result of a limited-by-design workload for Chubb and injuries to redshirt junior Keith Marshall (hamstring) and sophomore Sony Michel (shoulder).

Junior Brendan Douglas, who has 139 carries through his first two seasons, rushed 12 times for 21 yards for the Red team. Douglas and Turman each had 22 carries April 4 in Georgia's second scrimmage, which was closed to the media, with Turman amassing 140 yards according to statistics provided by the coaches.

"I think A.J. is a wonderful running back," Chubb said. "He is a powerful runner, and I am very happy for him. It's been a hard two years for him, and he's finally healthy."

Turman was a four-star running back in Georgia's 2013 class but redshirted that year due to the established returning tandem of Marshall and Todd Gurley. He then suffered a foot injury that required surgery and kept him off the field last season.

"I've just learned to keep grinding and keep pushing," he said. "Everything doesn't go everybody's way, and God has a plan for all of us. Instead of being discouraged, I would rather be proud of Nick and Sony and Keith and Brendan.

"I am still blessed to be at Georgia and to be out here with all these great players."

Georgia should have a healthy quintet at tailback going into preseason camp, and the big question for Turman is where he might fit in.

"I really don't know," he said. "I think camp will show whether I'm ready to be a part of that group. I do feel like I will be going in with a lot of momentum, but I still have a lot of stuff to work on before the season starts."

Odds and ends

Brandon Kublanow told reporters after Tuesday's practice that he worked at center while Isaiah Wynn worked at left guard. ... Marshall (hamstring) practiced, but redshirt senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder) was limited. ... Gurley will be among the 26 players attending the 2015 NFL draft later this month in Chicago.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.


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