By Chip Towers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Seeing how he’s now considered a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel would seem a shoo-in for SEC Freshman of the Year. But the argument over who might be the best freshman running back in the league remains a good one that might not be settled until after Saturday’s SEC Championship game. Both Alabama and Georgia received all they could have hoped for from their first-year backs. The Bulldogs have been led all season by Todd Gurley, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound true freshman from Tarboro, N.C. Gurley became the first UGA true freshman since Herschel Walker in 1980 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season when he broke the barrier two weeks ago. He enters the SEC title game with 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns, including a 100-yard kickoff return.
T.J. Yeldon hasn’t been quite as productive for the Crimson Tide but he hasn’t had to be. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound tailback from Daphne, Ala., comes into the weekend with 847 yards and 10 touchdowns. But while Gurley is Georgia’s primary back, Yeldon remains a backup for junior starter Eddie Lacy, who has rushed for 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns. Yeldon has 6.6 yards-per-carry average to Gurley’s 6.5. Of course, Gurley also has an understudy, but his is also a true freshman. Keith Marshall has averaged 6.7 yards a carry while rushing for 720 yards and eight TDs while alternating with Gurley. Georgia’s duo has the full attention of the Crimson Tide. “They run the ball extremely well,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. [More]