February 14, 2010

Samuel pumped about move to linebacker

Even when he was battling for playing time in Georgia's backfield, Richard Samuel never denied he longed for the other side of the ball.

He's about to get his chance.

Shortly after Georgia's victory over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl, Samuel went to head coach Mark Richt to ask if he would consider letting him make the move.

Richt, who made the switch official during Signing Day, was happy to oblige.

"I missed it (playing linebacker) a lot," Samuel said. "I like the position change and I feel I'll be more comfortable and be able to play more freely."

Samuel said that was never the case when he was battling for playing time at running back, even after he won the starting job to start the year.

"I liked certain aspects, but there were other parts I had problems with, especially blocking," Samuel said. "I never had to block in high school so when I got here I had to learn even the most fundamental of steps. I just couldn't get it down right."

Turnovers also plagued Samuel, who rushed for a career-high 104 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run against Arkansas in Week 3. He only rushed for 139 yards the rest of the year as Caleb King and Washaun Ealey finally emerged as the Bulldogs' top two rushing options.

Samuel said he could see the proverbial writing on the wall.

That's when he went to speak with Richt.

"The timing was good. I had a tremendous time playing running back, but I didn't too many snaps as the year went along," Samuel said. "My future wasn't looking too good, so I decided I would go ahead and make the move while I still had two years left."

Samuel said he would not have made the move if he had stayed at running back another season.

"It would have been tough because I would not have had another season to come back and improve on," Samuel said. "It would have been all or nothing."

Samuel quickly brushed off any suggestion that he redshirt to better learn his new role.

Bulldog assistant Rodney Garner agreed.

"He's a very smart guy," Garner said. "This was something that Richard wanted to do. He played linebacker in high school and it's something he approached Coach Richt about. He's going to get that opportunity."

Samuel isn't worried about picking up new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's new 3-4 scheme.

After all, the 3-4 will be something new for everyone.

"It might take some time, but I know for a fact that I'm going to study hard and I'm going to give a lot of effort," he said. "I'm going to learn the playbook. I don't think it will take that long to pick it up."

He's already making the necessary physical adjustments.

Samuel played at 222 last fall but has since packed on eight more pounds of muscle in bulking up to 230.

"I think I can be pretty good," Samuel said. "Again, I just feel more comfortable, everything flows better for me. I'm going to be able to play more freely."

Cornelius Washington likes what he's seen.

Like Samuel, Washington isn't certain how he will fit into Grantham's 3-4, but there is one thing he's certain about with his new defensive mate.

"Richard runs straight downhill to the ball," Washington said. "I think he's a natural."

Samuel's move will be a permanent one.

"I'm excited about it," said Samuel, who admitted his inconsistencies at running back wore greatly on his mind. "Hopefully, having played offense will help read plays better while I'm on defense. I'm ready to go. Everybody is sort of on ground zero learning this new playbook and scheme. It's going to be fun."

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