Georgia’s Super Dawgs
Todd Gurley & Sony Michel
We featured a Rams defender on Tuesday and a Patriots defender on Wednesday. Today we switch to the offense and split The Underdog down the middle. Two features, two running backs, two fascinating paths to their first Super Bowl.
Sony Michel and Todd Gurley will get the bulk of the carries on Sunday. Their relationship first began in 2014 at the University of Georgia, just an hour east of Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the battlefield for Super Bowl LIII.
Gurley was a junior that season. Michel was a freshman. Two Bulldogs in the backfield with one very interesting twist. You may remember that 2014 was the year Todd Gurley tore his ACL halfway through the season. In his absence, Michel emerged for 410 yards and five touchdowns.
Gurley went to the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft. Michel went to the Patriots last April. Both running backs were first-round picks. But enough about football and the red and black alma mater that ties them together. Here are their Underdog stories, short and sweet.
Michel’s parents immigrated to America from Haiti just before Sony was born, but they had a hard time finding work. It wasn’t until Sony became a high school football star that his local celebrity opened the door for his parents. The high school offered them jobs as a janitor and a cook and they still work there to this day.
“That’s when I realized football can be more than just a game. It can be a way to open opportunities for me, my family, and other people.”
Gurley grew up in Tarboro, North Carolina, a town of about 11,000 people with a high school of less than 600. He lived with his mother and three older siblings in a mobile home park with no TV, a few sets of clothes and some football gear. That was it.
Growing up without a television, the first football game Gurley ever watched was the Texas-USC Rose Bowl in 2006. He was only 12 years old, but he would lead Georgia to a Bowl victory six years later.
Together, Gurley and Michel are two of the league’s great off-the-field icons. They give back to their communities and home towns through literacy, education and youth football programs.
On Sunday, the two running backs return to the state that first brought them together. Once bonded through the Bulldogs’ backfield and humble beginnings, they’ll now carry the football in opposite colors on sports’ biggest stage.