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Chubb has unfinished business

HOOVER, Ala. – When it came to Nick Chubb returning for his senior year, Kirby Smart joked the biggest role the head coach played was not messing it up.

For the first time, Smart on Tuesday revealed details of that meeting with Chubb, whose decision to come back and finish out his career with the Bulldogs apparently also helped convince some of his teammates to do the same.

“He actually called me. I think we were on an official dinner weekend and we were out to dinner with prospects,” Smart recalled. “I wasn’t thinking about him at the time. I was thinking about that 2017 class so, when he called me, I was thinking this is it. I just didn’t know the verdict. I was holding onto every word he said. And he said ‘Coach, I’m kind of different. I decide things based on faith and I decide things based on different reasons. I’m not really motivated by the money. I want to come back.’ At that point, I didn’t say much because I didn’t want to screw it up.”

After Chubb’s decision became known, teammates like Sony Michel, David Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter, Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis soon followed his lead.

“He was the first of those guys to decide, and I think that swayed the masses, as you would say. I think his decision, maybe his decision impacted those other guys because everybody else was kind of at a standstill trying to decide,” Smart said. “They may have been talking amongst themselves, I don’t know that. But when Nick decided to stay, that obviously made me feel good and that was really important to the team, the program, and that part was special. The reasons he gave for staying were so unselfish. He’s just a special guy. As talented as he is, he cares.”

Chubb, along with Michel and linebacker Roquan Smith, made up the Georgia contingent attending Tuesday’s session here at the Wynfrey Hotel.

Naturally, Chubb – who was making his first appearance at the annual event – garnered most of the attention.

Questions went as you might suspect. Most dealt with his comeback from the devastating knee injury he suffered two years ago at Tennessee, and Georgia’s impending trip to Knoxville this fall.

“I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out, but I’m excited about that,” Chubb said of Georgia's game at Tennessee. “I kind of like stuff like that because I use it as motivation.”

Not that he needs a lot.

“I’m very critical of myself. I know last year, there was a lot of things that went into it, but I didn’t make some plays that I needed to make,” he added. “I just want to make the big plays that I feel I can make and keep pushing myself.”

There is still much to prove.

Although Chubb enjoyed a stellar comeback year for the Bulldogs, rushing for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns, his health ultimately played a reason in his decision to return.

“One of those reasons he stayed is because he didn’t feel he was 100 percent,” Smart said. “He wanted to be 100 percent at the time he was coming out. He felt his value was higher than where he would probably have been picked, and he wants to put Georgia back in a place that he thinks it should be, and I think it should be.”

Chubb begrudgingly conceded he wasn’t as healthy as he is today.

“That’s kind of a hard question, but I did feel 100 percent just because I was moving around,” he said. “Knowing what I know now though, and going through the spring, I do feel a lot better.”

Now that he’s back, his message to teammates has been a simple one.

“I tell them all the time that I didn’t come back for no reason,” he said. “You’ve got to work and you’ve got to grind. You’ve got to make it count.”

Chubb certainly has.

Nick Chubb says nobody's more critical about himself than he is.
Nick Chubb says nobody's more critical about himself than he is. (Anthony Dasher)