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Todd Gurley could be Los Angeles’ next big star 

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  • Todd Gurley could be Los Angeles’ next big star 

    By Rich Hammond

    OXNARD >> If, as the saying goes, stars are made, not born, what about those who are relocated?

    Todd Gurley is poised to be the next big thing in Southern California sports. The Rams running back still might go unrecognized walking down local streets, particularly when his trademark shoulder-length dreadlocks are pulled back, but given his recent face time on national TV, that seems certain to change.

    “Carl’s Jr.,” teammate Benny Cunningham said with a wry grin after a recent practice. “That’s his new nickname. You should call him that. He will like that.”

    Gurley has received copious good-natured ribbing for his role as as a burger-pitcher. In the commercial, Gurley — who speaks only a few words — is greeted by an agent and selfie-taking admirers as he coolly strolls through an office while wearing a hat with a generic “L.A.’’ logo.

    “Welcome to California, Todd Gurley,” shouts the agent, played by actor/comedian Jay Mohr.

    And welcome, perhaps, to a void that needs to be filled, that of major Southern California sports icon.

    Kobe Bryant has retired after an iconic 20-year career with the Lakers. Clayton Kershaw arguably is the best pitcher in baseball, but many viewers can’t even watch Dodger games. The Angels’ Mike Trout is highly marketable but seems reticent to display charisma in a public way. The top players for the Kings and Ducks are more likely to pitch products in Canada.

    Chris Paul is a contender, but at best he’s a very good player on a good Clippers team, and that franchise still is attempting to dribble out of the Lakers’ shadow.

    The throne has been vacated, and Gurley can fill it. He’s telegenic, intelligent, community-minded and is coming off a 2015 rookie season in which he rushed for the third-most yards in the NFL (1,106).

    It also doesn’t hurt that Gurley is represented by Roc Nation Sports, the agency founded by music star Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

    “The region is looking for someone to embrace,” said David Carter, Executive Director of USC’s Sports Business Institute, “and not only because football is back but because Kobe Bryant’s presence will be diminished. And as long as the Dodgers struggle to get their bearings on TV, their stars will not have as constant a light shone on them. All of this makes his timing ideal.”

    There’s only one question: Is this market ready to accept Gurley as a hometown hero? As of now, three months before the start of the NFL season, Gurley remains an outsider, and something of a quiet one.

    Bryant arrived as a teenager and grew up here. Shaquille O’Neal and Manny Ramirez were imported, but announced their arrivals with boisterous enthusiasm. Gurley? He’s been placed gently on Southern California’s porch like a FedEx package from St. Louis. The locals are just beginning to unwrap him.

    It’s a slow roll-out. At first glance, Gurley, only 21, certainly doesn’t scream “Hollywood.” In public and interview settings, he is good-natured but quiet. His social-media postings don’t reveal much, and his next inflammatory or self-congratulatory quote will be his first.

    This doesn’t surprise those who know Gurley well.

    “He’s very intelligent, and he’s never going to fly off the handle,” said Bryan McClendon, Gurley’s running backs coach for three years at Georgia. “He puts thought into everything he does, and he definitely thinks before he talks and acts.”

    In the next breath, though, McClendon describes Gurley as “almost too silly at times,” at least among those with whom he feels comfortable. Clearly there’s another side to Gurley. When will Los Angeles see it?

    This is a Maryland native who became revered in Georgia, a chameleon who counts country singer Luke Bryan and rapper Waka Flocka among his friends. Gurley is the focal point of the Rams’ offense, and at least until rookie quarterback Jared Goff develops, the face of the franchise.

    Yet rarely is Gurley’s the team’s most prominent voice.

    “I just kind of do my game,” Gurley said. “I feel like sometimes I can be a natural leader more in terms of being in the weight room, working hard. Guys see that and they feed off of that. So, basically what I’m doing is not doing anything extra and making sure I’m holding myself accountable as well as my teammates.”

    There’s a quiet, steely confidence that is almost Bryant-like.

    Some NFL pundits mocked the Rams when they used the No. 10 overall draft pick on Gurley in 2015, five months after he suffered a torn ACL. As a rookie, Gurley not only earned the starting job but finished behind only Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin for most rushing yards.

    There was no bragging and no I-told-you-so from Gurley. At OTA practices this month, Gurley has talked only of improving and seems far more comfortable praising others than himself.

    “When he first came in, he kind of kept to himself, but that’s how it is with everybody,” fellow Rams running back Cunningham said. “Once they get comfortable around the guys, you kind of see the true personality come out. He will let you all catch that one day. Hopefully you guys will catch the real Todd.”

    It’s there. Last year, Gurley filmed a candy commercial in which he wore a tutu and sang, “I’m A Little Teapot.” Gurley, quietly, has been a fixture at Rams community events over the past couple months. He might not yet be showing that Hollywood sizzle, but it’s early.

    Gurley recently dropped the veil a bit. Asked, at the end of a relatively bland interview, to review the burger he endorsed in the commercial, Gurley raised his voice and perked up considerably.

    “The burger was excellent. Go get one,” Gurley said, then added with a big grin, “There’s (a restaurant) right up the street, so I don’t want to hear any excuses.”

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams' Todd Gurley Focused On Making Mental Adjustment
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams' Todd Gurley focused on making mental adjustment

    Nick Wagoner, ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Standing on the sidelines as his rookie St. Louis Rams teammates went through the paces of their orientation over the weekend, running back Todd Gurley couldn't help but find himself popping into the occasional huddle.

    As Gurley works on recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, he's going to be limited throughout the team's offseason conditioning program. So while fellow rookie backs Malcolm Brown and Terrence Franks took reps during the two on-field sessions Friday and Saturday, Gurley intently watched and did his best to pick up pieces of information about his new offense.

    "I'm just gaining mental reps, basically just making sure I know what’s going on," Gurley said. "Just listening to the play calls and making sure in my head that I’ve got it down. Just go through the plays in the back by myself that’s always a good thing. Just walking through it while everybody else they have got this whole offense going, I’m in the back trying to make sure I’m on my stuff."

    Having just arrived in St. Louis with his rookie teammates, Gurley is still new to the Rams' playbook and is quick to acknowledge that there's much to learn before he'll be ready to go. Of course, that's only half the battle for Gurley as he goes through what figures to be a strenuous rehab.

    Gurley said he's been running for the past couple of months and can do some other drills like running the ladder but isn't yet cleared to do some of the change of direction drills and other things required of an NFL running back.

    In the meantime, the Rams have a detailed plan of what they want from Gurley in the coming weeks and no intention of forcing him back on the field a single moment before he's ready.

    “He’s in the meetings," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He’s learning the offense. He’s killing the rehab. He’s paying attention in the walk-thrus. He’s meeting his teammates. There were a lot of vets in here on Thursday when the guys got here. He’s excited to be here. He’ll definitely know what to do when he’s able to get out there.”

    As for when that might happen, Gurley doesn't want to venture a guess at this point. He says his mission is to show up on time every day and just set about doing whatever is asked of him in a given day.

    "I would want to be back as soon as possible," Gurley said. "But I’m not a doctor or a therapist so I can’t really tell you when I’ll be back. I’m just taking it day by day really."
    -05-11-2015, 01:53 PM
  • MoonJoe
    Todd Gurley's Wish for the Season
    by MoonJoe
    By Dan Carson – FOX Sports
    Sep 6, 2016 at 10:52a ET

    Todd Gurley is arguably the most tantalizing fantasy quantity of 2016.

    After flashing brilliance and steamrolling his way to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2015, the St. Louis Rams' second-year back enters the coming season with high expectations for a breakout year.

    But the fantasy owner fever dream where the Rams force-feed the ball to their 22-year-old star like foie gras doesn't appear to be on the table, according to Gurley.
    In a feature published Tuesday by Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei, Gurley revealed that he would like to keep his rushes between 20 and 25 takes per game and will be increasing his role in the Rams' passing attack.

    "It's cool getting more involved in the passing game," Gurley said. "Better than having 11 guys coming straight at you when you are running the ball. You get to at least avoid a couple hits."
    Rams offensive coordinator says Gurley is transitioning naturally into his increased role.
    "He didn't do it a lot in college, but he's a natural catcher," Boras said. "He's learning a lot about protection."

    "Nobody wants to carry the ball 30 times a game," Gurley said. "It's not the 1980s no more."

    Indeed, it is no longer the '80s. And while they share similar frames, Gurley isn't Eric Dickerson. He's still gaining confidence from an ACL tear that wiped out the back end of his final year at Georgia in 2014, and maintains that this year will be special because he's finally stopped worrying about his injury.

    "I feel I can play a lot better than I did this year when I can focus on football and not worry about my knee swelling up," Gurley said. "Last year, I was focused more on my knee."
    Now, Gurley isn't focused on swelling so much as building.

    "I used to hate doing legs until I messed my knee up," Gurley said. "Now I know I need to do legs. Everybody says they hate leg day. That's my day."

    “Leg day—the vegetables of lifting.”...
    -09-06-2016, 08:33 AM
  • AvengerRam
    Let's talk about Todd Gurley...
    by AvengerRam
    Let's talk about Todd Gurley,
    Is he where you thought, he'd be?
    Let's talk about all the good things,
    and the bad things that may be...

    Sorry, time-warped to 1991 for a second there...

    So, what do you think about Todd Gurley at this point in his career?
    He's an elite player at his position who has been hindered by a sub-par offense and poor OL.
    I still think he's a very good RB, but he's not quite elite.
    He's a big-play guy, not a grinder, and big plays only happen when there are holes.
    The offense/OL hasn't helped, but I don't think his effort level is where it needs to be.
    The offense/OL hasn't helped, but I think he made a mistake by dropping so much weight.
    I think he was overrated last year due to a few flashy plays, and this year is the real Gurley.
    2015 and 2016 paint such different pictures that I really can't evaluate him.
    -12-06-2016, 01:08 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Fassel On Gurley Struggling With Confidence
    by r8rh8rmike
    Here is what Fassel said when asked about Gurley's confidence level:...
    -12-31-2016, 08:00 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Todd Gurley gets Jerry Maguire moment, adds Carl's Jr. to list of endorsements
    by r8rh8rmike
    Todd Gurley gets Jerry Maguire moment, adds Carl's Jr. to list of endorsements

    May 29, 2016

    Nick WagonerESPN Staff Writer

    It was only a matter of time before Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley's list of endorsements would expand after the team moved back to its Southern California roots.

    Already this offseason, the NFLPA placed Gurley at No. 1 on its rising stars list,which is intended to "identify the players best positioned to rank among top sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars." One of the biggest reasons for Gurley's lofty status on that list was the team's move into the nation's second-largest media market.

    Gurley, who made his first appearance in a commercial spot as a rookie for Jolly Rancher candy last year, popped up in a new ad that the Carl's Jr. fast-food chain unveiled on Twitter on Saturday.

    The advertisement, which not coincidentally appeared on "National Hamburger Day," is for Carl's Jr.'s new "California Classic" double cheeseburger. In the spot, Gurley is joined by actor Jay Mohr, who appears to be doing a rendition of his Bob Sugar character from the 1996 movie "Jerry Maguire."

    Mohr acts as Gurley's agent in the commercial and is seen selling him on endorsing the burger as part of Gurley's welcome to California. At the end, Mohr screams "Welcome to California, Todd Gurley."

    What's left unsaid but can be reasonably inferred is that such a welcome is only the beginning for what figures to be a lucrative endorsement future for the Rams' offensive centerpiece....
    -05-31-2016, 09:25 AM