Gurley began his freshman season backing up redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome. In his first game against the Buffalo Bulls, he rushed for 100 yards on eight carries with two rushing touchdowns. In addition, he had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the 45–23 home victory. Gurley took over as the starter the second game of the season against SEC East opponent Missouri and rushed for 65 yards on 10 carries in the 41–20 victory. In the following game against FAU, he had 10 carries for 111 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in the 56–20 victory. The next week, he had 16 carries for 130 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a 48–3 victory over Vanderbilt. In the following week's rivalry game against Tennessee, he had 24 carries for 130 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the 51–44 victory. On October 27, against Florida, he had 27 carries for 118 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in the 17–9 victory in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. On November 3, against Ole Miss, he had 18 carries for 117 rushing yards in the 37–10 victory. In the following rivalry game against Auburn, he had 11 carries for 116 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the 38–0 victory. In the next game against Georgia Southern, Gurley became the second true freshman in Georgia history to rush for 1,000 yards, the only other being Herschel Walker in 1980. In the regular season finale against rival Georgia Tech, he had 12 carries for 97 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in the 42–10 victory. Georgia won the SEC East and faced off against Alabama in the SEC Championship. In the 32–28 loss, he had 23 carries for 122 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Georgia ended up qualifying for the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska. In the 45–31 victory, he had 23 carries for 125 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.