Credit Scott Hendrix for seeing this coming.
The head football coach at Cedartown High School knew what Georgia was getting in February when the Bulldogs signed his finest player, tailback Nick Chubb. In the past two weeks, Chubb has rushed 68 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns to spearhead the No. 9 Bulldogs to easier-than-expected victories at Missouri and Arkansas.
"I'm excited and happy for Nick, but I'm not really surprised," Hendrix said this week by phone. "All Nick has ever done is perform at an extremely high level in whatever he was doing, whether it was in the classroom, on the track, in the weight room or on the football field."
Chubb had a 47-yard touchdown run in Georgia's season-opening win over Clemson. It was an instant highlight in which the 5-foot-10, 228-pounder lost a shoe on his way to the end zone, but the touchdown also was viewed as a result of starting tailback Todd Gurley having already worn down the Tigers.
Gurley was suspended indefinitely Oct. 9 amid allegations he signed memorabilia for money, and now everybody knows what Hendrix discovered months and even years ago.
"I'll be honest with you, I went out of my way every day to try and find something to get on Nick about," Hendrix said. "He is that good of a kid and works that hard that I would have to go searching to find something. His locker would get just a little messy from time to time, so I would have to get on him. I would hunt something that he did wrong, and it was really, really hard to find it.
"When your best player lets you coach him, then all the others will fall in line, and that's what we had with Nick. I'm sure he knew he was the best player on our team, but he didn't expect to be treated any differently."
Chubb responded to being thrust into Georgia's starting role by pounding out 143 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries in the 34-0 win at Missouri. It was the most carries by a Bulldogs back in nearly 13 years, and ESPN reported that he encountered contact before reaching the line of scrimmage on 22 of his rushes.
Georgia coach Mark Richt insisted last week that Chubb showed little to no soreness after such a substantial workload, and Chubb's starting sequel this past Saturday included 30 rushes for 202 yards and two touchdowns against the Razorbacks.
"He's built for it," Richt said in his news conference Saturday night. "He's very, very tough physically and mentally. He's strong. In fact, I think he came from a high school -- Cedartown -- where they're just tough. They coach tough, and their offseason is tough. He didn't get babied in high school at all.
"He's one of those guys you can say wasn't given anything because he was a very good football player. He had to earn it every day in practice."
It didn't take long for Richt's quotes in Little Rock to find their way to Cedartown.
"That was very gracious for Coach Richt to say those things," Hendrix said. "Everybody thinks their kids work really hard, and that was a good compliment from Coach Richt, and we're happy about that, but Nick is the one who made all that possible. Nick is never going to be caught up in individualism or things like that.
"The kid is just going to go to work and do his dead-level best every day. He's talented enough to where he has been good for Georgia, but he knows that running backs are at the mercy of their offensive linemen."
Chubb, who plowed through Arkansas for 127 first-half yards on just 12 carries as the Bulldogs built a 38-6 lead, quickly credited the offensive line after Saturday's game and said he felt much more relaxed compared to his starting debut. He was asked by reporters about Gurley, who remains suspended as the Bulldogs have this Saturday off before next week's game against Florida in Jacksonville.
"I'm just holding it down until he gets back," Chubb said. "I've got three more years to be the starter."
With 99 rushes for 569 yards, Chubb actually has five more carries than Gurley and 3 more yards than Alabama's T.J. Yeldon, who is having a good year. Hendrix said he has watched all of Chubb's carries on television and hopes to see him live for the first time next month, when the Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium.
Hendrix stays in touch with Chubb, who apparently expresses the same views in private that he does before microphones.
"I asked him when he thought the Gurley thing would be cleared up," Hendrix said. "Instead of him saying anything selfish, he said, 'We really need him back.' Nick really hopes this gets cleared up."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.