March 6, 2012

Is Samuel a forgotten man?

With so much attention being paid to the signing of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley to augment Georgia's backfield for 2012, rising senior Richard Samuel was asked if some look at him as a forgotten man.

His answer may surprise you.

"I feel like they do, but it doesn't bother me," Samuel said. "My work ethic, what I do on the practice field and how it turns over to the playing field shows that I'm still there."

The way Samuel sees it, being the "old man" in the backfield carries with a certain amount of responsibility.

"I'll be able to show what kind of practice and what kind of effort it takes, as far as the preparation and everything else it takes every day to get better," said Samuel, who was asked to elaborate his position.
"I say that because I know what is needed at this level. Of the guys coming back, we'll have young guys. We'll have Carlton (Thomas) and we'll have Isaiah (Crowell) coming back, but I've shown and been able to know what it takes to make it through a game or to play tailback at this level. The young guys, they've never played at this level, or competed at this level."

Apparently, running back will remain his position.
Recently, head coach Mark Richt indicated that the 235-pounder might get some looks at fullback this spring, although that's something Samuel said is far from a sure deal.

"I'm a running back … tailback…from what I know and talking to the coaches," Samuel said. "I know it's been up in the air, but when I talk to Coach Richt and Coach (Bryan) McClendon, they say tailback. It's not going to be a switch."

That being the case, Samuel said he wouldn't necessarily balk at the idea under certain scenarios.
"It kind of depends, I guess, on exactly what I'd be used for," he said.

Such as?

"A couple of years ago we had a package where we had two running backs, so in case they bring that package back; that would be fine then," he added. "But as far as the power (I-formation), I doubt the coaches would use me as a lead blocker, that type of way."
Samuel said there has been no mention of moving back to linebacker, where he played before moving back to tailback prior to last year.

"That's never been in the discussion," he said.

Samuel said his ankle is 100 percent.

Bulldog fans well recall the final play of the team's 24-20 victory over Florida when Samuel hopped off the field with a severely sprained ankle.

Samuel would undergo surgery - not once, but twice, to correct the damage and missed six games before returning to play briefly in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.

"It was tough," he said. "I was supposed to come back for the SEC Championship game, then had to go back in and have some more surgery done so that set it back. Plus, the bowl game, I wasn't 100 percent."

But that's not the case now.

Finally healthy, Samuel said he's anxious for the start of spring practice where he intends to do his part to make sure this year's collective group of running backs learns from last season's mistakes.

So far, Samuel likes what he's seen, including the effort being made by rising sophomore Isaiah Crowell.

"I've seen him grow and learn from the things that happened to him throughout the season," Samuel said. "He's got a hard work ethic. He's working toward a goal instead of just going through the motions."

Marshall has impressed as well.

"He's a good guy, he works hard; it seems like he wants to learn a lot," Samuel said. "He's always talking to me about plays and what's going on, and what certain things he needs to get better at, to get ready for spring practice."

As for the group, Samuel said the running backs will be taking a different approach as a whole.

"Our group, a lot of the guys we work together; we set up little individual meetings where we keep each other accountable. Throughout practice and throughout workouts we pick each other up and let each other know that if one person is slacking you have to get on to that person," he said. "You're only as good as the weakest person in your segment, so if somebody goes down, you've got to get the other guy ready. It all works hand in hand."