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Nick Chubb, An All-Time Georgia Great

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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The impact of who Nick Chubb is will long be bigger than the metrics of what he has done.

Senior Day is a showcase for players who have seen it all. Few have earned the asset of experience like Georgia's Nick Chubb. In his most-recent outing, Chubb moved past football legend Bo Jackson into fourth place on the SEC's career rushing list. Should Chubb gain 273 more yards, a total which seems very likely with at least four games remaining, he will finish second in league history, behind only the incomparable Herschel Walker. That progress is just part of the journey. 

The expectations were there from the start. A humble hero out of Cedartown High School, Chubb came to Athens as a blue-chip prospect with all of the accolades and accomplishments of a future star and, perhaps more importantly, an attitude of both never expecting and never settling, either. 

Year one with the Bulldogs started with Chubb competing with the likes of Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Sony Michel and Brendan Douglas in the offensive backfield. On Chubb's first official carry in Georgia's season-opener against Clemson, he ran for 13 yards; on his second attempt, he dashed for a 47-yard touchdown. Despite not starting until the Bulldogs' sixth game, Chubb finished with the most yards from scrimmage in the entire SEC and as the league's skill position scoring co-leader.   

Chubb's freshman season stands alongside that of the one running back who is largely beyond measure. Walker, in 1980, ran for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2014, Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 scores; Walker averaged 5.89 yards per carry, with Chubb setting a school record with 7.06. Including receiving statistics, Chubb had more total yards and total touchdowns than the greatest to ever do it.

Forced into the lineup after a suspension to Gurley, the then-true freshman Chubb carried the football 38 times in his first-ever game atop the depth chart, the most attempts by a Georgia running back since 2001. He, the very next week, had 30 more carries and 202 yards. Chubb finished his freshman year with a truly grand finale: an SEC postseason record 266 rushing yards in a Belk Bowl triumph over Louisville, which boasted a top ten rush defense nationally. 

Counting just the games Chubb started in 2014, his 165.3 yards per game would have ranked as the second-highest figure in conference history.

Through his first five contests as a sophomore, Chubb, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, had tied Walker's mark of 13-consecutive 100-yard games. Chubb rushed for 745 yards and seven touchdowns through the first month of his second year. In fact, from mid-October of 2014 to early October of 2015, Chubb compiled 2,068 rushing yards in a carry-over schedule that accounted for a full regular season slate plus a bowl game. He was on the verge of unparalleled production.

On the very first play from scrimmage against rival Tennessee that fall, Chubb suffered a devastating injury that damaged multiple ligaments and cartilage in his left knee. In addition to ending Chubb's year and his run at the record books, the blow, at least initially, put his football future in question. There was pain and there was adversity on the road to recovery; for Chubb, however, there was never any doubt.  

Chubb attacked rehabilitation with a powerful resolve. The same deliberate, downhill approach that makes Chubb successful in competition was the driving force behind his return to it. To this day, each step tells a story.     

Post-injury, Chubb's second first game was similar to his college debut. Chubb, instead of easing his way back, carried the football 32 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over North Carolina. Roughly 60 miles from his hometown, Chubb, blowing past Tar Heel defenders, saw his career come full-circle; it's a spotlight he won't soon leave.

Since returning to the lineup, Chubb hasn't slowed down. He ran for 1,130 yards as a junior and is already just a few strides short of 900 yards this fall. Not long after some thought his career might be over, Chubb, in a stirring sequel, has rushed for a total of 2,024 yards and 18 touchdowns. This season, he has Georgia, recently ranked number one in the country, headed for the SEC Championship Game and directly in the mix for the College Football Playoff.

As soon as Chubb exits Sanford Stadium, he will leave a legacy measured by more than just yards. Chubb, a multi-year team captain, has led the Bulldogs both on and off the field, inspiring his teammates with his persistence and promoting a team-first mindset with his play. He, along with fellow seniors Davin Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter, Sony Michel and others, have, literally and figuratively, put Georgia first. Veterans like Chubb pace the Bulldogs into late November with a very real shot at a national title. 

Local legend to national news, Chubb has remained steadfast and true. Those roots run, much further than any of his football sprints, deep into American history. In the 1860s, the Chubb family founded Chubbtown in northwest Georgia, a thriving community of free black residents during the era of the Civil War. The Chubbs remain an area fixture, all with a proud past that continues to shape the present.

The impact of who Chubb is will long be bigger than the metrics of what he has done. Though Chubb has left tracks of red clay all across the SEC record books, he leaves something far more valuable for the next generation of student-athletes: a standard to meet.

For Nick Chubb, the direction is always forward. When he walks, others follow; when he runs, few, if any, can keep up.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports