Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tarboro's Todd Gurley II named AP NC player of the year

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Todd Gurley II figured he was simply going out on the field to have fun, which would make it easy to perform at a level that would help Tarboro win a third straight state championship. That philosophy also helped him make him this year's Associated Press prep football player of the year for North Carolina.

“I really just go out there and have a lot of fun while I'm playing,” Gurley said. “That's what I feel like: if I have fun doing it, I'll do my best playing in whatever game I'm playing in.”

Gurley ran for nearly 2,600 yards and 36 touchdowns in Tarboro's latest title push. He was the runaway choice for the award, earning 11 of 16 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Thursday. Greensboro Page quarterback James Summers – a North Carolina State recruit – was second with two votes after leading his school to an unbeaten season and the Class 4-AA championship.

Gurley was a Shrine Bowl pick who entered the season ranked No. 1 on The Fayetteville Observer's list of the top 50 college prospects in the state. He's also regarded as an elite sprinter in track who represented the U.S. in international competition last summer.

“What makes him special is he expects to be great,” Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. “That's the No. 1 thing. When he steps on that field, in his mind, he expects to be the best player at that time. It doesn't matter if it's the first game of the season, a conference game, the first playoff game, the state championship game, the Shrine Bowl. He has that confidence that when he steps on that field, he believes he's the best.”

Gurley certainly proved that in his final game. He ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns as Tarboro beat Lincolnton 39-36 in the 2-A final, including 197 yards in the second half. He scored the go-ahead 12-yard touchdown with 3:12 left to earn the game's most valuable player award.

Gurley is considering North Carolina, North Carolina State, Clemson or Georgia.

“He's prepared himself,” Craddock said. “A lot of people think, `Well, Todd Gurley is a great athlete.’ I've coached a lot of great athletes. This kid worked his tail off in the weight room and with speed training and doing things the right way. He put himself in position to be this successful.”