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Friday, July 15, 2011

An upbeat Samuel says he's "excited" about playing tailback again

Richard Samuel walked into a meeting with reporters on Friday looking like an insurance salesman. But the Georgia junior spoke like someone whose playing days are still very much ahead of him.

If he's being moved back to tailback just to be insurance for freshman Isaiah Crowell, then Samuel isn't aware of it. His understanding is he'll have a chance to start.

“It’s a complete competition,” Samuel said, one day after the announcement of his switch back to tailback, after a redshirt year at linebacker. “Like coach said, you can’t just come over and hand me the position. There’s guys that have been there. It’s straight competition. The best man’s gonna be the starter, and playing.”

The decision was broached within the past week, after Caleb King was found to be academically ineligible. Samuel said the coaches approached him, let him know the scenario of moving to tailback or staying at linebacker, and then Samuel thought about it.

“It was totally up to me,” Samuel said, who added that he wasn’t surprised. “After hearing (King) was completely done, if you look at the history, there’s no other backs besides Carlton (Thomas) have had playing time. So something was gonna have to be done.”

Samuel is spending the summer interning at the UGA compliance department, which is why he was dressed nicely for his meeting with reporters. But he also spent Thursday afternoon doing some pass-skeleton drills with teammates, where he lined up at linebacker and got some of the rust off.

“I still remember some of the plays, most of the blocking schemes,” he said. “So most of the stuff is the same. I just have to learn some of the new stuff they’ve put it.”

Samuel said he was getting comfortable at linebacker, and never pined to return to tailback. But the fact he has two years left, and the depth chart at each position, ultimately swayed him to agree to the switch.

He weighs 238 pounds now, after playing running back at 225 pounds. But Samuel shrugged that off.

“As long as my speed and agility hasn’t decreased, the coaches don’t really mind,” Samuel said.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Samuel “had a spot” on defense had he stayed. (Samuel was listed as the backup to starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree.) Grantham said Samuel also could have played some outside linebacker, so the switch will open a chance for playing time to guys like T.J. Stripling.

Grantham described Samuel as an “explosive” linebacker with good speed. But with the tailback depth taking such a hit, the offense got the nod for Samuel.

“You’ve always gotta do what you feel like is best for the team to help us win,” Grantham said. “We felt like moving him around, or moving him back, was best to help make us successful on the offense.”

It may seem that Samuel has been moved around a lot and never quite given a consistent chance. But the redshirt junior was taking the high road.

“I describe it as a career full of opportunities,” he said. “I came in at running back, I didn’t redshirt my freshman year. I started my sophomore year. Things weren’t going so good so I decided to follow another avenue and move to linebacker, and then redshirt last year. And now here’s another opportunity to go back to running back, be able to do something, and make changes, and learn from when I played running back the first time.”

He added:

“I’m more excited about it. I’m back to something I have a history with, something I know a good bit about. I don’t have to stress over learning a whole new playbook. I’m excited, I don’t know how to explain it.”

1 comment:

Stevie said...

Can we get a team full of selfless kids like RS...I really hope this turns out great for him!