February 8, 2008

Challenges welcome

Freshman running back Richard Samuel loves a good challenge.

The more obstacles thrown his way, the better he seems to thrive. Apparently, that includes Georgia's famed "mat drills" which got underway Wednesday morning at the Butts-Mehre Building.

"Everybody had warned me all about that, but I didn't think it was going to be that bad," Samuel said. "It was a little challenging. But to be honest with you, it was really OK."

One look at Samuel leads one to believe that physical exertion isn't a problem for this five-star performer from Cass High.

Listed at 6-0 and 197 pounds, Samuel said he's actually closer to 6-1 and 215, give or take a pound. He's also very excited to hit field for spring drills.

With good reason:

The Bulldogs are looking for a few good men behind starter Knowshon Moreno and backup Caleb King, and Samuel, along with fellow freshman Dontavius Jackson will be watched very carefully by running backs coach Tony Ball who is eager to see exactly what they can do.

"Dontavius is a lot like Knowshon and Caleb," Ball said. "I'm not saying that from a talent standpoint he's that dynamic but he has that potential to be that type of back.
"Richard is just two years into the position. He's more of a downhill type runner, a big back. I really like his size; I love his speed and the fact that he hasn't played the position for very long. He's young, and he's eager to learn. He's got a lot of upside."

Samuel didn't start playing running back until his junior year when he carried the football 164 times for 1,342 yards and 19 touchdowns, followed by a senior year which saw him run for 1,429 yards and 24 touchdowns in just nine games.

He averaged 8.7 yards per carry.

"I really didn't know what to expect when my coaches at Cass asked me to move to running back," said Samuel, who collected 80 tackles from his linebacker spot last year. "But it turned out well. I had a lot of fun, and really helped me become a complete player."

Having Jackson around to push him is seen as a plus, too.

"I think that's great because his weakness is my strength and my weakness is his strength," said Samuel. "I think we're really going to feed off each other. We're going to test each other pretty good, and in the long run hopefully that will be good for the team."

Samuel and Jackson are getting to know each other away from the field, too. This semester, the duo, along with fellow freshmen Ben Jones and Tavarras King are rooming together.

"I've learned they like to have a lot of fun," Samuel laughed. "They're a great bunch of guys."

By getting both Samuel and Jackson, recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said the Bulldogs filled a major need following the graduation of both Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin.

"That was one of our two biggest priorities," Garner said. "We were hoping to get one, but we were able to get two."

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