Todd Gurley was the tenth player taken in last year’s NFL draft. He ran for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns in his rookie season, despite missing multiple games to injury. It was good enough to earn Pro Bowl honors in his first season in the league. He talked to us about meeting one of his heroes and his favorite sport to watch.
Growing up, Gurley didn’t have access to much luxury. When he was young, his mother moved Gurley and his siblings from Baltimore to the small town of Tarboro, North Carolina. Already recognized as a special talent on the football field, Gurley almost didn’t play high school football. But once he was convinced to, he led Tarboro to the 2A North Carolina state championship title. He was named North Carolina’s AP Player of the Year in his senior year in 2011, when he scored nearly 40 touchdowns.
Without access to cable television for much of his youth, Gurley didn’t watch much college or pro football. But his standout talent in high school earned him high recruiting attention and he committed to play football at the University of Georgia, where he starred for parts of three seasons before being drafted by the Rams.
When asked what sports star was the biggest thrill for him to meet, Gurley showed those local North Carolina roots:
“The biggest person I met was probably Julius Peppers. I grew up in North Carolina and he was from the same area as me and he was the biggest name to ever come out of North Carolina. When I first played against the Packers, I was like, ‘Damn, I’m really playing against Julius Peppers …’ it’s just cool because I grew up watching this guy …”
What other sports get Gurley pumped up? Again, he stays local:
“Probably Duke basketball. Diehard Coach K fan. I started liking them probably around 2003. They had J.J. Reddick, probably one of the best college basketball players.”
Gurley said that during his college recruitment process, “I went to a Duke / UNC game at Cameron Indoor which was like the best feeling ever, a dream come true. It was crazy. You just want to sit down but you can’t … because everybody stands up the whole game. Duke was down like 15 points at half and ended up coming back and they won the game.”