ATHENS, Ga. — Richard Samuel continues to take changing positions to a new level.
Georgia's redshirt senior went from tailback to inside linebacker back to tailback in the seasons leading up to his final year with the Bulldogs. This year, the 6-foot-2, 236-pounder from Cartersville has gone from a fullback playing some tailback this spring to a tailback playing some fullback now.
If only Georgia kept records for the most roles in a career.
"I don't know if it would be me or not," a smiling Samuel said. "Kiante Tripp used to switch positions on both sides of the line a lot."
Samuel's most recent shift occurred after Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the team on June 29 following his on-campus arrest on felony weapons charges. That left redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome and true freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley as the most prominent tailbacks.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Samuel has been in the meeting room with fullbacks and tailbacks.
"He's got to know both, and he's got to be ready at either spot," Richt said. "He's in good enough condition to get reps at both."
After enrolling early in January 2008 as a 16-year-old, Samuel rushed 26 times for 133 yards and a touchdown as a freshman backup to Knowshon Moreno. His most memorable run occurred in 2009, when he bolted 80 yards down the middle for a touchdown in a 52-41 win over Arkansas.
He switched to linebacker in 2010 and redshirted that season, but he was back at tailback in 2011, when he produced his most memorable game. Samuel had 17 carries for 58 yards and scored the winning touchdown in the 24-20 comeback triumph over Florida, but he fractured his ankle on his final carry against the Gators and underwent surgery that sidelined him until the Outback Bowl.
"After the bowl game, I realized that this is my last go-around and that I've got to do something with it," Samuel said. "I think I'm more eager than ever because of that."
Samuel long has had the mentality of doing what's best for the team, but there have been numerous adjustments along the way. Getting used to fullback this year has been the latest.
"As soon as you get the ball, there is not really a hole, so you've got to trust that the hole will be there," he said. "That's the main difference, and another one is just coming out of that three-point stance in the I-formation. Picking up blitzes is a little different, and it's just different getting that ball closer to the line.
"Other than that, it's basically the same thing as running back."
At Cass High School, Samuel was rated the No. 4 tailback nationally by Scout.com and No. 5 by ESPN.com. He has just 768 career rushing yards, a reflection that his college journey has been difficult.
Yet the versatility he has displayed has Richt believing that a career in the NFL is not out of the question.
"I think people are going to see plenty of film on Richard to make a determination if they think he can play for them," Richt said. "With the intangibles and the type of person he is and the team guy that he is, I think he's going to be a guy that teams will have no reservations whatsoever to bring on their squad."
Odds and ends
Malcolm Mitchell has a shoulder contusion and is accompanied by fellow cornerbacks Branden Smith (shoulder contusion) and Damian Swann (neck sprain) in green, noncontact jerseys. ... Quarterback Aaron Murray has completed 61.1 and 59.1 percent of his passes his first two seasons, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has set a goal of 65 percent this year. ... The Bulldogs had their second and final two-a-day practice Saturday, and they will resume Monday afternoon following their first day of classes.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...