July 15, 2011

Not looking back

For junior Richard Samuel, there's no looking back.

"This is a two-year commitment," Samuel said of his move from linebacker back to running back. "I will end my career playing running back."

Samuel made that statement Friday during a sit-down with Georgia beat writers, one day after head coach Mark Richt announced he will be moving back to offense where he spent the first two years of his collegiate career.

The former Cass standout said he's not making the move simply to provide depth. He'll apparently get that chance to play, and when practice opens the first week of August will battle Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas for the starting job.

"It's a complete competition. I just can't come over and expect them to hand me the position, it's a straight competition," Samuel said. "The best man is going to be the starter."

Samuel insisted the decision was his alone to make and he could have remained at linebacker if he had so desired.

"I was asked, 'Richard, think about it,'" Samuel recalled. "I went through the scenarios of the offense and the defense and the possibility of playing. I was told nobody's going to make you make a decision; it's all up to you what you want to do. It was totally left up to me."

Samuel said he wasn't asked about a potential move until Caleb King's academic situation became finalized.

It didn't take him that long to make up his mind.

"The tip of the scale was thinking I had two years left and also looking at how far I am on the depth chart, my abilities, and the guys who were ahead of me at linebacker. I also considered the whole running back situation and the fact that there's no veteran besides Carlton playing running back," he said. "It was all about what would get me on the field quickest, so thinking on that and weighing through the options, it was either stay here on defense and possibly rotate depending on the rotation or go to offense where I will have a fighting chance and somewhere I've been and have a history of playing."

With Samuel no longer in the picture, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said others - including freshmen Kent Turene (when he arrives), Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson - will have the opportunity to compete for playing time.

Grantham added that he believes Samuel could have been a success at the position had he stayed.

"We did invest some time with him in the spring; he's a big, physical guy who will run and hit. I did feel like there were some things he could do for us and we could utilize that with him," Grantham said. "What it will do, like anything, it will create an opportunity for someone else, whether it's a player who is here now or a freshman coming in. It will create an opportunity for one of those guys to step up and make some plays."

King said he anticipates playing at or near his current weight of 238 pounds. He said he weighed 225 when he last played running back two years ago.

"I'm OK with the weight," he said. "I just have to get back into the running back scheme and stuff running backs should be able to do."

Samuel went through his first pass skeleton with the offense Thursday afternoon.

"I still remembered most of the plays, most of the blocking schemes," he said.

Samuel wasn't surprised he was asked to make the move.

After King's situation became apparent, Samuel said rumors began to swirl that he would be asked to move back to offense, so when Richt did approach him to gauge his thoughts, it certainly did not come as a surprise.

"I had a feeling after hearing he was completely done," Samuel said. "If you look at the history, there's no other backs beside Carlton who has playing time, so something was going to have to be done."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]