- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Georgia’s freshman running back duo combined for 2,144 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns and they couldn’t help but own a larger-than-life on-field persona with elite moves and pulverizing hits.
Off the field, however, the two couldn’t be anymore boring. You’re likely to find more excitement in a library than with these two laid back roommates.
They don’t have the desire to parade around Athens looking for excitement -- good or bad. They don’t crave attention, and they’d rather spend a quiet evening at home with a good movie.
“We’re just chilling,” said Gurley, who led the duo with 1,385 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last season. “What else can we do?”
Added Marshall, who rushed for another 759 yards and eight touchdowns: “We’re trying to stay out of trouble. There isn’t much else to do.”
Oh, there’s plenty to do in a college town with a bustling nightlife like Athens. Georgia coaches know the distractions and wrong turns that can come with a night out on Broad Street. The Bulldogs have seen their fare share of off-field incidents with players in recent years, especially at the running backs position, so it’s refreshing to see two level-headed studs living the homebody life.
“We’re both smart enough to the point that we know what not to do so that we won’t get in trouble,” Marshall said. “I feel like we’re mature enough. Anything could happen being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but we try to stay out of certain situations.”
Instead, they choose cinematic situations. The two usually spend off nights (when they don’t have football, studying or tutoring) going to the movies or rummaging through the $5 movie bin at Wal-Mart.
Some gems include “Superbad” (Gurley’s favorite), all three “Rush Hour” movies, “Scarface” and “Blow.” The two even went to the theater and saw “The Call,” starring Halle Berry, and “Olympus Has Fallen” on back-to-back nights.
They don’t even partake in the cliché college student act of plopping in front of a TV to play video games, like “Call of Duty” or any of the “Madden” football games. That’s TOO boring.
There are no homemade pranks or competition, except on the football field.
They are the oddly boring couple, and Mark Richt loves it.
“I’ve not heard a peep about anything off the field,” Richt said.
“They’re smart enough to know and they have enough inside of them from how they were raised to feel like they understand the responsibility of celebrity they’ve got.”
And that celebrity status gets old. Marshall, who was the No. 2-rated running back in the 2012 recruiting class, said he first felt the nuisance of fame when he and Gurley were bombarded by adoring fans while they tried to eat at LongHorn Steakhouse after the two combined for 294 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the 51-44 win over Tennessee.
Both were caught off guard and a little naïve about the attention, which only grew. All the pictures and autographs perplex them because they still feel like normal people.
“It’s cool and I just try to have fun with it,” Gurley said. “We’re just college students. It’s not like we’re getting paid to play football or anything. I don’t like [the attention] sometimes; people will tell you that.”
Added Marshall: “I try to be nice to everybody because I don’t want people to get the wrong impression of me, but sometimes you just want to hang with your friends.”
Honestly, they're nothing normal in the eyes of those around them, and they shouldn’t expect anything else. But they're entitled to their freedom and independence, which is why their “Gurshall" nickname, which combines their names, jersey numbers and further links them to Georgia great Herschel Walker, is a touchy subject.
They think it's “clever,” but aren't exactly fans of it. They don’t like the Walker comparisons or the increased hype they the name brings.
“[Walker] was one of the greatest, but we still had to go out and play every week,” Marshall said. “It really didn’t mean anything. It was just people talking.”
So they created their own nicknames. They want to be known as individuals, not a tandem. Marshall is now “Sosa4aMil,” which is a play off his short dreadlocks and a million. Gurley is going by “TG4hunnind,” which he took from the rapper YG.
Not as catchy, but they’re independent.
They know the attention will only increase, but they plan to block it out like last year because they have even more planned for 2013 -- more production and more wins.
“Coach told us at the end of the season, ‘Don’t worry about last year,’ but I’m going to work as hard as I can for the season so hopefully we can just pick up where we left off and keep getting better,” Marshall said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a slump or anything.”
Imagine the attention then.
5dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf