TARBORO, N.C. - There is little doubt that Tarboro running back Todd Gurley is a rising star.
Listed as a three-star athlete for most of the process by Rivals.com, Gurley exploded in the final game of his senior year with 242 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the North Carolina 2-A State Championship game.
Gurley then turned around and rushed 19 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolina's. All of a sudden, people started to notice.
One man who wasn't the least bit surprised was Gurley's Head Coach at Tarboro, Jeff Craddock.
"When Todd Gurley wants to take over a game, he's going to take over a game," said Craddock. "You may see him take over some games next year as a freshman at Georgia. I really have that much faith in him because he's just a humble young man. I know he's going to work hard and I've never seen a young man with that much talent. I think the SEC is going to be in for surprise."
Craddock is well aware of and vocal about his star running back's talent, but he believes Gurley's greatest attribute lies in his motivation to get better.
"I love his work ethic," said Craddock. " People see how big he is and how fast he can run, but he has worked real hard for that. He has done a lot of speed training and strength training, and that is when the cameras are not out and the lights aren't on. So you have a guy who has all that talent and who is getting all the awards, but still, behind closed doors, he is working as hard as anyone to make sure he is the best he can be."
Rivals.com has had Gurley ranked as an athlete for most of the process, and while that will change in the final rankings, Craddock agrees and disagrees with Gurley's classification as an athlete.
"He can do anything he wants to do on the football field. I have no doubts about that," said Craddock. "But I'm telling you, if they don't put him at running back, they are crazy. He can be the best running back in the country."
Success is a tough thing to handle for a young man, but Craddock is certain that Gurley has the character and personality to handle the pressure.
"He is a great guy, and an average 17 year-old guy. " said Craddock. "He wants to mingle in with the crowd and not stand out. He has a great sense of humor. He is a funny guy, and just your typical 17 year-old kid. He wants to mix in with his friends, go to basketball games, grab a bite to eat and just chill."
With all of the talk about how great Gurley is right now, Craddock wants everyone to know that his best football is still ahead of him.
"He is a young 17 year-old and won't turn 18 until August 3," said Craddock. "In all actuality he could, next year, be getting ready for his senior year of high school. It is time for Todd to move on to the next challenge, but we haven't seen the best of him yet. I can promise you that."
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