NFL: Todd Gurley Explains How He Accidentally Qualified for Track Team USA in High School

by Halle Ames
(Photo Credit: Grant Halverson / Stringer/ Getty Images)

We understand some people excel in a sport, but the NFL’s Todd Gurley has mastered two without even trying.

The Atlanta Falcons 26-year-old running back has always been a star. He was a first-round pick in the 2015 draft, named AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, and the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017. In addition, Gurley has qualified for three Pro Bowls and made it to a Super Bowl with the Rams, among many other achievements.

On this week’s podcast episode of Truss Levelz in The Players’ Tribune, hosts Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram II sit down with Todd Gurley II. During the 53-minute interview, Gurley explains how he accidentally stumbled into track and how he excelled in it.

Todd Gurley Qualifies for Track and Field Team USA

The North Carolina native said a track coach he knew invited him to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to “just run”.

“I was literally my only track coach. I would teach myself the hurdles and whatnot, so we go to South Carolina, we do the race down there– I guess that was like the pre-trial to qualify for the USA Team.”

However, Gurley said he went into the track meet blind. The 16-year-old had no idea what the meet meant until he won it. His new coach told him to pack his bags because the pair would be going to Italy for a week to compete in more races.

Gurley admits that he didn’t have the stylish and proper gear that other athletes might have, though.

“I’m the kid with the same pair of shoes. I had to go to Walmart to get some AND1 shorts. I was wearing the same stuff, besides, like, USA stuff.”

The athlete said he did not place while in Italy with Team USA, but he found which race he enjoyed.

“I did the 300s, and then I fell in love with the 110s. The 300s is cool until you get to like, states, thats when you gotta do the prelims, semis, and then you’re like, ‘alright, man. I can’t do this'”.

The Players’ Tribune hosts joke back to their guest, saying the 300 was “a man’s race,” especially when you include the hurdles.

Ivy League Recognition

He humbly shrugs of the experiences, saying, “that was back in the prime, dog”. Although, Gurley admits that he received offers from Ivy League schools, like Princeton and Cornell for his unforeseen track ability.

‘I was like, sh*t. You know, I’m a kid, I’m in the hood. I’m in North Carolina like nobody makes it to an Ivy League school! I was like, ‘yeah, I’m definitely going here!’ Then I was like, ‘nah, I’m good, I’ll go play football.'”

Todd Gurley Excels in Many Sports

However, the athlete said he quit football his freshman year of high school because he was tired of it and wanted to focus on basketball.

“I was good! I was the Derrick Rose of my JV team. I played varsity basketball before I played varsity football. I didn’t play varsity football until my eleventh-grade year.”

He rejoined the team after coaches convinced him to during week 5 of the football season. Gurley played quarterback and defensive end.

When Gurley got to college at Georgia, he was a football star and joined the track team to do the 60-meter hurdles. After his roommate followed in his footsteps and got hurt in track, the track coach made the two quit so he wouldn’t get blamed for the school’s football stars getting hurt.