December 21, 2011

Todd Gurley to focus on recruiting soon

Tarboro (N.C.) running back Todd Gurley said he has been too busy wrapping up his prep football career to really focus on recruiting at this point, although he said after the 75th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas that he plans to announce, "in early January."

The three-star back, who led his school to their third straight 2A state crown this fall, put the Vikings on his back in the state playoffs and capped his high school career with a 242-yard and four touchdown performance in the a 39-36 victory over Lincolnton at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

Then, after North Carolina got off to a slow start in the Shrine Bowl, Gurley once again did the majority of the heavy lifting and powered his state to a 29-16 win despite the fact that they trailed at the half and the speedster was operating on two sprained ankles. However, Gurley finished the contest with 19 rushes for 119 yards and two scores; he also had a 94-yard touchdown called back.

"I focused on just going out there and having fun because it's a bowl game," he said after he was named North Carolina's Offensive MVP in the contest. "I met a lot of new friends and we talked about really just coming out here and having fun. The first half, we did pretty good but penalties killed us. The second half, we got the win and represented the state of North Carolina very well.

Gurley, who probably secured a fourth star at the Shrine Bowl, had just three rushes in the first half, but North Carolina's offense really got moving after they went to a wildcat offense with the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder serving as the trigger man.

"That was a good call by the coaching staff," he said. "I was able to run hard and had a great line. Some people who have never blocked before were out there blocking for me, so that was great for them to come out there and block, it helped me to run hard and pick up yardage.

"The wildcat was pretty cool. I did it a couple of times this year but not that much. When we got down here, my teammates and I didn't think it would work that well, but we ran it and got a lot of yards off of it. We did some good things out of it and kept going back to it."

Although Gurley is undecided on his college decision - he admitted that recruiting has been on the back burner while he focused on state playoffs and the Shrine Bowl - he has had a final four of Clemson, Georgia, NC State and North Carolina for some time.

"I haven't really been thinking about recruiting too much," he said. "I had to come here and learn a lot of plays - I came out here just to have fun, but eventually I have to start thinking about that.

"They're all great programs with great coaches. I like the environments and academics, everything. I have a good feeling about those schools. I have no leader."

The nation's No. 29 athlete and the state's No. 10 senior had plenty of teammates at the Shrine Bowl who have already made their pledge to some of his four finalists, including the trio of NC State commits K'Hadree Hooker, one of Gurley's best friends and roommate at the all-star event, Majid Salahuddin and James Summers.

"K'Hadree, M.J. and James Summers were working me hard," he joked in his postgame comments when asked about spending the week with a trio of NC State commits. "I played with them a little and threw up the Wolfpack sign, but we had some fun with it and it was a good time.

"Today, my teammates were just like, 'come to Clemson,' 'come to UNC,' 'come to NC State,' but they weren't really pressuring me. They were more picking a little bit on me about coming to their school."

Gurley took his official visit to NC State during the weekend of their final home game against Maryland, along with Hooker. He returned shortly after to watch the Pack host Indiana in basketball at the RBC Center, but admitted a big factor in that trip was the fact that his high school coach is a Hoosiers fan.

"My coach is a big Indiana fan, but it was good to just go there and see what it's like during the offseason, what the atmosphere is like," he said. "The official visit was good, K'Hadree and I took our visit together. I saw everything they had to offer and was able to spend more time with the coaches, that was good."

Gurley planned to originally make his decision public at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in Phoenix, Az., but one thing he has decided is that he would now like to do that in Tarboro.

"I'll probably come home and do it," he said. "I'll probably do it at my school, do it in front of my family, my teammates and the whole town so I can show my appreciation for them."

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