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Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee views a practice drill late last month in Athens.

In the first four seasons Dell McGee served as Georgia's running backs coach, the Bulldogs produced six 1,000-yard rushing seasons among the quartet of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Elijah Holyfield and D'Andre Swift.

Chubb and Michel each surpassed 1,000 yards during the 2017 season, as did Holyfield and Swift a year later.

All four of those running backs averaged at least 6 yards per carry throughout their careers. All four also averaged at least 9 yards per reception, a fact not lost on McGee as he enters his fifth season in Athens.

"We've been working on that ever since we've been here, but it's definitely a benefit as far as getting to that next level, which is where all of our guys aspire to be," McGee said Wednesday afternoon on a Zoom call. "You have to develop that part of your game to be an every down running back. It adds value, and the more you can do, whether it's catching the ball, running great routes or protecting the quarterback, the better off you're going to be with us and in the future.

"I do feel like all five of ours are capable, but some are better than others, and that's the development part."

McGee's stable of running backs is headed by redshirt sophomore Zamir White and junior James Cook but also includes sophomore Kenny McIntosh and freshmen Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton. White is the top returning rusher after amassing 408 yards and 5.2 yards per carry last season, while Cook displayed the most balance with 31 carries for 188 yards (6.1 per carry) and 16 receptions for 132 yards (8.3).

White had just two receptions for 20 yards last season, while McIntosh had one catch for 3 yards to accompany his 25 carries for 174 yards.

This is the first season since 2014 when Georgia didn't return a 1,000-yard rusher, and the only reason it happened then was because Todd Gurley missed three games in 2013 with a high-ankle sprain yet still amassed 989 yards. McGee has more unknowns this year compared to past seasons, but the talent is there given that Cook, White and Milton were all top-100 national signees.

"I think we have a great room," McGee said. "They're all very talented, and they all bring certain qualities to the game. Losing D'Andre was a big loss, but we definitely have five guys who are capable and will do a good job this year.

"We definitely have two guys with Zamir and James Cook who have provided a lot of leadership in that room, and they're definitely two guys who complement one another."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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