The Bulldogs are hoping Gurley can lead them back to the top of the SEC East and potentially into a spot in the College Football Playoff. Last season, Gurley was hampered by injuries and a torn ACL sidelined tailback Keith Marshall for the final eight games, causing UGA to limp to a disappointing 8-5 finish.
When Gurley is healthy, he's the kind of player who can carry the Bulldogs, according to UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. With Hutson Mason replacing the record-setting Aaron Murray at quarterback, UGA might need Gurley to remain upright more than ever.
"When Todd's healthy, he's the best back in the country -- hands down," Bobo said. "He can run with power, he can run with speed and he can catch the ball."
Gurley injured his groin in the 2013 opener and then sprained his left ankle in the fourth game. He missed the next three contests and wasn't the same player upon returning.
"You just hate the pain and having to practice with it," Gurley said. "Hopefully not, but I'm pretty sure something else will come up once the season starts up. That's just the sport. You'll have to play with something and you just have to fight through it."
Bobo said Marshall, who ran for 759 yards as a freshman and 246 in five games last season, should be running at full speed by June.
Bobo also expects incoming freshmen Sony Michel (the nation's No. 2 running back recruit in the 2014 ESPN 300) and Nick Chubb (No. 7) to play this fall.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- No team has been hit harder by the NFL draft recently than LSU. The Tigers have had 18 players selected in the past two.
How does coach Les Miles cope with such attrition?
"When we lose underclassmen, we have got to recruit to those voids, and we do. Those guys come in [and play]," Miles said. "We played 15 freshmen last year, we played 15 freshmen the year before and we will play 15 freshmen again this year, generally speaking."
The Tigers' ability to withstand such personnel losses by relying on young talent will depend on a recruiting class that ESPN's Recruiting Nation ranked second nationally.
The most likely candidates to make an immediate impact will be on offense, and there are some enormous shoes to fill. With quarterback Zach Mettenberger, tailback Jeremy Hill and receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry all out of the picture, LSU might feature freshmen at each of those positions:
• Tailback Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall recruit in the ESPN 300, has garnered comparisons to Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 1,925 yards and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at Oklahoma.
• And among the Tigers' four ESPN 300 receiver signees are the No. 1 and 3 wideouts, Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn, respectively, who could potentially fill the void at a position that lost 72 percent of its production when Beckham and Landry entered the draft.