Sony Michel has left his mark on the NFL during year one with the New England Patriots. His impressive rookie season shouldn’t be considered all that much of a surprise, especially considering how his college career played out. While Michel played collegiately for the University of Georgia, he did so while consistently dealing with a crowded backfield.
Michel was with the Bulldogs from 2014 to 2017 and racked up 590 carries for 3,613 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground. For good measure, he also added 64 receptions for 621 yards and six additional scores through the air. But whether it was his first year or last, the Patriots’ new starting running back always dealt with competition.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the crowded backfield Michel was a part of throughout his four seasons at Georgia.
Sony Michel’s Battle for Touches at Georgia
Although Todd Gurley, who left school to enter the NFL draft after the 2014 season played in just six games that year due to injury, it obviously impacted the team’s rotations early. Specifically, it played a role in Michel seeing a limited workload. He took a back seat to Gurley at points that year and finished up the season with 64 carries for 410 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman.
But Gurley wasn’t the only one who Michel had to battle for touches with, even as a freshman. Current Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb came to Georgia the same year Michel did, and both players shared the backfield over the four-year span. In comparison to Michel’s numbers in 2014, Chubb racked up 219 carries for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Michel’s College Breakout Comes During Senior Season
Chubb played just six games during the 2015 season, giving Michel his first opportunity to see a big workload. The Patriots totaled 1,136 yards and eight scores that year, but it was his senior year in 2017 that really stood out. The Georgia duo dominated in their final year at school, both posting superb stat lines.
Between Michel and Chubb, the two backs received 379 combined carries (Chubb 223, Michel 156), and racked up 3,572 rushing yards with 31 touchdowns in 2017. Although Michel’s 1,227 yards fell just behind Chubb’s 1,345, he scored more touchdowns and had an exceptional 7.9 yard-per-carry average.
With all things considered, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Michel has been able to impress while playing in a crowded Patriots backfield. Although he’s taken over a decent amount of the workload, the likes of James White and Rex Burkhead are still there and battling for playing time. But the rookie has left his stamp on year one and the arrow is clearly pointing up.