Georgia running back Nick Chubb finished his UGA career with back to back 1,000+ rushing yard performances during his junior and senior season. He closed out as Georgia’s second all-time leading rusher, surpassing 1,000 yards in every season where he remained healthy.
Bu even with those great stats, Chubb, one of the greatest running backs in SEC history, still finds himself flying under the radar as we head into the 2018 NFL Draft.
And it all dates back to Oct. 10, 2015, on the first offensive play against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.
Chubb took a toss from quarterback Greyson Lambert, cut left and made way towards the sideline. Chubb was tackled as he made his way out of bounds, and then every college football fans’ heart paused for a moment. Chubb’s left leg hit the ground and for a split second bent in a 90-degree angle past his kneecap. It was one of the more gruesome injuries we’ve ever seen. He had torn his MCL, PCL and LCL ligaments.
Prior to the injury, Chubb was without a doubt the nation’s top running back. Coming off a freshman season where he put up 1,547 yards in Todd Gurley’s absence, he was averaging 8.1 yards per carry his sophomore season before going down with injury. Everybody had Heisman on their minds.
But Chubb rehabbed and was able to return to action against North Carolina in the 2016 season opener. Nobody ever had any doubt that if there was one player who could return from that injury, it was Chubb himself.
“[I’ve] never been in that position. I was down, [in a] lot of pain,” Chubb said following the first game of his junior season. “I could have done two things, either laid down and never got up, or what I did, and pushed myself.”
So, Chubb closed out his career without missing another game. His yards per carry may have taken a slight hit, but he was back. There was less burst, but he made up for that in other ways, being a workhorse.
Since the injury, though, Chubb has been flying under the radar, outside of Athens that is. The Cedartwon product is still viewed as a great back, but one that draft analysts would classify as “second tier.”
However, ESPN’s Mel Kiper thinks Chubb may be a hidden gem in this year’s class of running backs.
“It’s a strong second tier,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. told the Washington Post. “Sony Michel and Nick Chubb both from Georgia. Michel, if he had a little bit better ball security would probably be ahead of Chubb, but Chubb, just from a consistency standpoint, even though Michel finished stronger, may go a little bit higher.”
“That’s a pretty good next tier. Of that group, the guy I like the best from that next tier would be Nick Chubb. With Hines more of a wild-card because he is so versatile.”
Chubb made strides in impressing scouts with a very impressive NFL combine, running a 4.52 40-yard dash, which tied for sixth fastest among running backs and his 29 bench-press reps tied Penn State’s Saquon Barkley for the most at the position.
There’s no doubt that October 10, 2015 took a hit on the career of #27, but maybe he was just so incredibly good before the injury, that now, well, he’s still really good.