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Georgia's Sony Michel more than just Nick Chubb's backup

Sony Michel's versatility makes him a valuable part of the Georgia offense. Getty Images/Frederick Breedon

Calling Sony Michel a second banana might be factual -- Nick Chubb is obviously Georgia’s No. 1 running back -- but it would undersell what Michel brings to the Bulldogs’ football team.

Michel ranks among the SEC’s most multi-talented players, and Georgia has identified numerous ways that he can complement his superstar backfield teammate rather than simply serving as Chubb’s backup.

“Sony’s very versatile, obviously,” coach Mark Richt said. “He can catch it out of the backfield, he can go out [wide] and catch it like a receiver. He’s always been an outstanding running back and he’s a great pass protector. He’s one of our better special teams players, not only as a return man, but also on punt return block. He was about our best kickoff coverage guy last year.”

And if Georgia needed someone to record a soundtrack for its highlight footage, Michel could do that, too, having created a stir last summer with a rap track titled “UGA Anthem.”

The point is this: if we’re having a conversation about the SEC’s best backup running backs, Michel’s would be one of the first names uttered. But last week’s 52-20 win against South Carolina provided further evidence of how much more the Bulldogs sophomore can do.

He can carry the load at running back. On an 88-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter against the Gamecocks, Michel touched the ball on five of the eight plays. He caught a 10-yard swing pass and finished off the drive with runs of 7, 17 and 21 yards for the score.

He can catch passes, either out of the backfield or at wideout. Michel caught two touchdown passes in the third quarter, the first of which ended with him bowling over South Carolina safety Jordan Diggs at the goal line after catching a quick screen as a slot receiver.

And he finished the day with 87 combined yards rushing and receiving (eight carries for 55 yards, three catches for 32) and three scores.

“Sony’s huge,” quarterback Greyson Lambert told ESPN.com after the game. “For him to be able to run the ball and pass-catch and us be able to line him up outside, throw screens to him, whatever it is, he’s a very dynamic player. He’s a big deal for us.”

Without question. Entering Saturday’s game against Southern, Michel leads Georgia with five touchdowns, one more than Chubb. He’s second on the team with 148 rushing yards and two scores and second on the team with 141 receiving yards, plus team highs for touchdown catches (three) and yards per catch (20.1).

So go ahead and call Michel the SEC’s best backup running back. You might be right -- although fans of Alabama’s Kenyan Drake and Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara would disagree -- but it might be more worthwhile to debate where Michel ranks among the most versatile players in the conference.

He might top the list there, as well.

“It’s hard to explain someone that does so much,” receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “He can run routes like a receiver. He catches the ball like a receiver. He runs the ball like a running back. He’ll juke you. He’ll overpower you. Sony Michel’s the overall player.”