The ACC has a Todd Gurley problem. No, I don’t mean that Todd Gurley, Georgia running back, is going to slash and dash his way to victory against Clemson and Georgia Tech and thus make the ACC look silly. I mean the ACC has a problem that Todd Gurley is on Georgia’s roster to begin with.
Todd Gurley has been named Preseason Player of the Year in the SEC. That is quite an achievement for anyone, but painful if you consider where he came from. Gurley came from Tarboro High School in Tarboro, NC. That means that Gurley came from the same hometown as Kelvin Bryant, revered Tar Heel running back of the early eighties. With his 6’1 230 bowling bowl frame, no one would mistake Gurley for Bryant.
The other difference is that Bryant went to the local school North Carolina and Gurley went to a more regional and national power Georgia. You cannot blame Gurley for this. Gurley clearly wanted high profile football and a shot at a national title. Right now the best chance to do those things is in the vaunted SEC. It is not Gurley’s responsibility to make UNC and NC State attractive landing options.
Nor is Gurley the first. Current Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes went to Crest High in Shelby and was the number one prospect in the state. He spurned Bunting and Amato (who could blame him) for Florida and won two national titles. The quarterback on the first title team was Chris Leak, who similarly spurned Wake Forest (granted Coach Jim Caldwell who recruited him was no longer there) for Florida.
There have been plenty of others over the years, but there was a brief time when then North Carolina coach Mack Brown fenced off the state. For the ACC to be better in football, UNC and NC State have to be relevant nationally. For UNC and NC State to reach their full potentials they need the best in state players to stay in state. This brings up that Catch 22, you need to recruit to win, but you need to win to recruit.
The winning will have to come first. Stronger scheduling and major bowl or playoff appearances would be nice, and necessary to keep the future Todd Gurleys of the world in the Old North State.
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